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Can Congress still legislate?

September 4, 2017

It appears that President Trump is about to help us find out if we really still even need this institution we call Congress, or at least its current membership.

With the August recess ending at midnight, Congress returns to the same problems it has so far refused to address, plus a couple of really big additions.

One is funding for the Harvey recovery, and the other is DACA.

Of the two, DACA has the most national importance, simply because Congress created DACA, or rather, the need for it.

Amidst all the emoting and theatrics one hard fact is extant.

The only reason President Obama used what even he conceded at the time was an unconstitutional executive order to create DACA was because Congress refused to act on immigration.

That’s because Congress has become simply a political cheering section and fundraising arm for one party or the other.

As Musings has noted before, it is not the President’s job to legislate but someone has to, hence the flurry of regulations and executive orders from the Obama administration and now from President Trump.

Although many are already accusing Trump of punting on the DACA question, assuming that the details leaked so far are accurate, what he is really doing is daring Congress to do its job.

One of the by-products of the 2016 election is that President Trump is really not either party’s man. He ran and was elected on that premise.

When Republicans whine that President Trump  isn’t “leading the Republican Party” it is wise to remember that he never claimed to be a party-line Republican. Instead he said from the first day that he intended to work for the larger good of the country.

Congress could codify DACA in a political heartbeat, and quite frankly, there might be considerable political benefit in doing so.

Anecdotal and polling evidence indicates that the public has a great deal of sympathy for people who were genuinely brought to this country by their parents as minor children, i.e. as involuntary immigrants.

While it is undeniable that not every person who was under 18 came here involuntarily, i.e. the teenage cartel criminals, the vast majority truly know no other home.

Certainly while the problem of illegal immigrant gang members who might not even know who their parents are is a bump in the road, it isn’t an unsolvable obstacle.

One answer could be to grant conditional residency for a relatively short period of time to persons over age 14, say four or five years, conditional upon staying out of trouble and becoming educated and working toward  becoming  self-sufficient.

For those involuntary immigrants over 18 now, their green cards would be conditional on how they have conducted themselves since DACA went into effect.

That would address the criminal element, while offering stability to the tens of thousands of DACA-covered persons who have conducted themselves well since arriving in-country.

Underlying the immediate problem of DACA is how willing Congress is to legislate a modern and workable immigration policy applicable to the 21st century and its needs and threats.

And most important of all, Congress could begin to prove to the country at large that it is still relevant.

From → op-ed

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