Various media sources are reporting that president-elect Donald Trump, in an interview with Time Magazine arranged concurrent with that magazine's naming him person of the year, said in relation to so-called Dreamers who came illegally as minors to the United States:
We're going to work something out. ... They got brought here at a very young age, they've worked here, they've gone to school here. Some were good students. Some have wonderful jobs. And they're in never-never land because they don't know what's going to happen.
That's the problem with how our current scofflaw president went about the business of giving them an unconstitutional and extra-statutory temporary amnesty: He was throwing future disposition of the mess into someone else's lap, and he knew it. This forces the new president to have to choose between appearing to violate his campaign promise to restore the rule of law into the workings of the nation's immigration system, or appearing to be harsh and unforgiving about the plight of these persons.
I don't want to appear completely inflexible myself, but I do ask how much good can come from institutionalizing the notion that if one president does something clearly beyond his legal purview and in complete disregard to his constitutional duty to "take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed", another president will be obliged to make good on the unlawful conduct. It seems to me that this just makes it more appetizing to violate law and constitution for the next ambitious person to occupy the Oval Office who doesn't react well to this whole thing about separation of powers when it stymies his agenda.
Then there are the practical questions:
First, how far back is the incoming president willing to go to accommodate? Will he incorporate the deadlines that Obama's White House did? If he moves them forward so that more recent arrivals apply, he will only be encouraging more of the same kind of mad (and dangerous) dash to the borders of tens of thousands that we have been seeing since 2014 or thereabouts.
Second, what if these individuals didn't get educated, or seek honest employment, or do anything constructive with their lives in this land of opportunity? There are many instances of criminals, wastrels, gang-bangers and others who have been the happy beneficiaries of the program. Will a President Trump simply grandfather in the current recipients, even though the Obama program was riddled with flaws and fraud? Or will he require a re-application with honest, careful (maybe even extreme) vetting this time around to scrub out the undeserving?
Third, how about giving a real look at how old these individuals were when they entered? Under the program rules as actually implemented, there were not all of tender age, they were not all vulnerable, and many were smuggled into the country by coyotes and cartels who were paid by parents already here illegally. Is someone who came when he was 17 years old really in the same position as someone who was six or seven years old at entry? Do they deserve equal treatment under some new program?
Finally, will the new president direct the government to actually take steps to remove those who did, but ought not have, benefited from the program? If he does, it will help to reassure his core voters and supporters, who may be watching and listening with gathering anxiety over the direction his immigration policies are actually going to take.
As they say, "stay tuned for more".