Trump DACA order channels 'I am not a king' Obama

Unlike former President George W. Bush, who had the grace to "stay silent" on his successor's actions, former president Obama just can't help joining the fray as he sees his failed legacy falling apart. 

Just as he inserted himself into the Obamacare repeal discussion, Mr. Obama has weighed in on President Trump's decision to rescind the Obama 2012 executive order, creating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, otherwise known as DACA.  The former president's statement is summed up by

In a rare statement since leaving the presidency, Obama said that "the action taken today isn't required legally. It's a political decision, and a moral question."

The New York Times report on the Trump action and the Obama reaction, while mostly even-handed in reporting both sides, calls out Attorney General Jeff Sessions for using the "aggrieved language of anti-immigrant activists who argue that undocumented people [otherwise known as illegal aliens] are lawbreakers who hurt native-born Americans by usurping their jobs and pushing down wages" (emphasis added).

Trump's critics add their own aggrieved language to the media narrative:

  • Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.): "heartless" and "ripping apart families"
  • Former vice president Joe Biden: "Cruel. Not America."
  • House minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.): "a deeply shameful act of political cowardice"

And these:

  • Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez: "the latest tactic in the Republican playbook to promote hate and discrimination."
  • Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.): "part of the bigoted policies that are a cornerstone" of the Trump administration
  • Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.): "the voices of division & hate win the day"

It was President Obama himself who, speaking on a Univision radio show during his first term, one of 22 times the former president said he couldn't "create his own immigration law," before he did just that, said:

I just wanna repeat, I'm president, I'm not king. ... I can't just make the laws up by myself. So the most important thing that we can do is focus on changing the underlying laws.

President Trump's statement on phasing out the DACA program expands on former President Obama's words:

The legislative branch, not the executive branch, writes these laws – this is the bedrock of our constitutional system, which I took a solemn oath to preserve, protect, and defend. ...

There can be no path to principled immigration reform if the executive branch is able to rewrite or nullify federal laws at will.

While Republican congressional leadership generally acknowledges that "President Obama's DACA program was a clear abuse of executive authority, an attempt to create law out of thin air," and that "a permanent legislative solution" is needed, as House speaker Paul Ryan said Tuesday, the pressure is now on the Republican House and Senate to get the job done in the "six-month window" given by the president.

As reports, "White House press secretary Sarah Sanders put congressional Republicans on notice":

I don't think the American people elected Congress to do things that were easy. They elected them to make a government that works, to work properly [and] to work for the American people[.] ... If they can't do that, then they need to get out of the way and let somebody else who can take on a heavy lift and get things accomplished.

Columnist Ted Slowik, in a piece at that is otherwise critical of President Trump, says the Trump-Sessions DACA decision is "a smart political move."

Slowik's thinking is that, along with "fulfilling a campaign promise" and appealing to his base, "Trump punted the DACA problem to Congress, which has even lower ratings" than Trump's own "historically low job-approval ratings. 

In Slowik's view, a Republican Congress that was "unable to repeal the Affordable Care Act, despite seven years of campaign promises," may have even more difficulty reaching "agreement on immigration reform legislation amid numerous other priorities":

Democrats appear united in their support for a legislative fix for DACA, but Republicans are divided on the issue. Will some Republicans feel pressured by primary challengers to take a hard-line stance on immigration?

Will hard-liners be successful in insisting on provisions – such as funding for Trump's border wall or severe reductions in annual numbers of legal immigrants allowed – as part of legislation that protects DACA recipients from deportation?

Slowik thinks "the timing of Trump's DACA move is particularly clever":

The March 5 deadline for Congress to act will arrive as most states prepare to hold party primaries for the November 2018 Congressional elections.

Mr. Slowick also thinks "Trump is betting Congress will fail [again] to act on immigration reform," allowing Trump to keep his word while Congress gets the blame.

Whatever the political outcome, the fact of the matter for the president is that "America is a nation of laws, which means I, as the president, am obligated to enforce the law."

Those are not President Trump's words; they are former President Obama's words.

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