Republicans claim they oppose the program that protects immigrant children not because they are racist, but because it was illegal for President Barack Obama to enact it without Congress. But Trump just accidentally revealed that is not true.
In the wake of Donald Trump's decision to end DACA, the program for 800,000 immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, the GOP is now pushing a new justification for why Trump's decision is not as racist as it looks.
Republicans now claim they support protecting "Dreamers," but President Barack Obama created the program illegally, so Trump had no choice but to scrap it and let Congress start from scratch.
House Speaker Paul Ryan said he supports a "permanent legislative solution," but DACA was "a clear abuse of executive authority, an attempt to create law out of thin air." Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who killed legislative attempts to protect Dreamers in 2010, called DACA a "fundamental mistake" and said "President Obama wrongly believed he had the authority to re-write our immigration law."
The Trump administration echoed this line. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said DACA is "unconstitutional" and gleefully characterized the decision to sunset the program in six months as an affirmation of the "rule of law."
But on Tuesday, Trump took to Twitter and accidentally admitted this entire premise is a lie:
Congress now has 6 months to legalize DACA (something the Obama Administration was unable to do). If they can't, I will revisit this issue!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 6, 2017
If, as Trump claims, he has the power to unilaterally "revisit the issue" solely because Congress cannot pass a legislative solution, then in Trump's view, DACA was never illegal in the first place. It was, however, part of Obama's agenda, and Trump's party spent the entirety of Obama's eight years in office opposing and obstructing everything he did — including wanting to protect children.
The reality is that the GOP's notion that DACA is illegal has zero basis in case law or court rulings.
While a tied Supreme Court decision did halt an order to expand eligibility for DACA, no court has ever ruled the original program illegal. The only two federal courts to review it, the 5th Circuit and the D.C. Circuit, both ruled there was no basis to challenge DACA in the first place.
In an open letter to Trump defending DACA, 105 law professors cited Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution, which instructs the president to "take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed." Scholars generally interpret this as giving the president responsibility to prioritize legal actions, which is exactly what DACA does.
Trump cannot claim Obama had no power to go around Congress while simultaneously promising to do the exact same thing six months from now. His latest self-contradictory tweet exposes the GOP falsehood, and throws under the bus every Republican leader who went to bat to defend his racism.