Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Tuesday that the Trump administration would end DACA — Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — the Obama program that has allowed immigrants who arrived here illegally as children to remain in the U.S. since 2012.
But what Sessions said Tuesday was glaringly hypocritical.
Forget for a moment about how you feel about DACA. It’s obviously a serious subject that threatens to upend so many lives on one hand and also has considerable enduring implications for America’s broken immigration system on the other. No one should dismiss the gravity of this issue, and that is certainly not my intention here.
But let’s focus just on Sessions’ primary reasoning for ending the program. He emphasized time and again in his statement that he was only enforcing the law, and that constitutionality is of the upmost importance.
“We inherited from our Founders — and have advanced — an unsurpassed legal heritage, which is the foundation of our freedom, safety, and prosperity,” Sessions said. “As the Attorney General, it is my duty to ensure that the laws of the United States are enforced and that the Constitutional order is upheld.”
Sessions drove home that the cherished American system of law established by our founders is bigger then any one man, and that includes the president. Our Constitution designates immigration policy as Congress’ prerogative and President Obama had no right to circumvent the law with his DACA executive order.
Constitutionally, Sessions is absolutely right.
But what about Donald Trump’s travel ban?
Earlier this year, President Trump issued a travel moratorium on those coming into the United States from countries determined to be hot spots for radical Islamic terrorism. Federal courts ruled it to be unconstitutional.
What did Sessions think? He said Trump’s immigration executive order was “well within his lawful authority.”
But here’s what the 9th Circuit Court said of the travel ban, “We conclude that the president, in issuing the Executive Order, exceeded the scope of the authority delegated to him by Congress.”
The three-judge court’s statement continued, “In suspending the entry of more than 180 million nationals from six countries, suspending the entry of all refugees, and reducing the cap on the admission of refugees from 110,000 to 50,000 for the 2017 fiscal year, the president did not meet the essential pre-condition to exercising his delegated authority: The president must make a sufficient finding that the entry of these classes of people would be ‘detrimental to the interests of the United States.'”
Granted, the court’s rulings on the travel ban focused on the Constitution’s religious clause and other concerns but it doesn’t change the fact that a federal court ruled the president’s executive order illegal. Again, this was Sessions’ primary gripe about Obama’s DACA order: the illegality of the White House action.
“Societies where the rule of law is subject to political whims and personal biases tend to become societies afflicted by corruption, poverty, and human suffering,” Sessions said Tuesday.
In rescinding DACA on constitutional grounds, Sessions made a move that, while legally correct, screams rank hypocrisy.
Does Jeff Sessions ever plan to follow the Constitution consistently? Or will he continue to base what’s “constitutional” entirely on whether or not it hurts immigrants?