When President Barack Obama set up the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in 2012, libertarian-conservatives and right-leaning libertarians warned that by the federal government collecting in identifying information on DACA applicants without legislation governing the program and enacting protections and guardrails, Obama was creating a de facto deportation list for a potential, future anti-immigration administration.
At the time, lots of people called those of us in that group crazy. But in the absence of congressional action to protect DACA recipients, that is what President Trump’s nixing of DACA will result in—DREAMers who were approved becoming deportable to the same exact extent of any other unlawful immigrant, potentially with information they handed over as part of the DACA process being used to locate and deport them.
One anti-immigration group is now apparently lobbying to ensure that the identifying information handed over by DACA recipients can in fact be used going forward just as right-libertarians warned it one day could be, by someone with less immigrant-friendly ideas than those of us who then worked for or with organizations including the CATO Institute and Breitbart.
That organization is the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), whose lobbying disclosures indicate wants information DREAMers handed over to the federal government in good faith to be used by the federal government to locate them and get them in line for deportation.
The bill that FAIR is lobbying against is S.229, the Protect DREAMer Confidentiality Act of 2017. It’s a very simple bill that provides, with limited exceptions (which include where fraudulent claims are concerned), that “The [Homeland Security] Secretary shall protect individual application information from disclosure to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement or U.S. Customs and Border Protection for any purpose other than implementing the DACA Program” and that “The Secretary may not refer any individual whose case has been deferred pursuant to the DACA Program to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Department of Justice, or any other law enforcement agency.”
Basically, it’s saying the Homeland Security Secretary cannot use a list of DACA recipients as a deportation list (though if an individual has submitted fraudulent information, they are excluded). FAIR evidently thinks the Homeland Security Secretary should be able to use identifying DACA information to compile a DREAMer deportation list.
It’s a position that should strike limited government and privacy-minded conservatives and libertarians as concerning, but also one that is unsurprising given FAIR’s hardline opposition to immigration—legal and not—and wide array of stances that run counter to conservative, limited government, and family values.
While even 72 percent of Republicans, including President Trump, support protecting DREAMers—to say nothing of the even more obviously worthy and non-controversial policy of not treating a list of DACA recipients as a deportation list—FAIR does not. But then FAIR personnel, including its current President, also support other not-very-conservative ideas like “voluntary infanticide” (it’s unclear what that is, since a newborn baby hardly has the ability to consent to its own killing), China’s former anti-life and anti-human rights “One Child Policy” and—you guessed it— eugenics.
Tucker Carlson, writing in the Wall Street Journal in 1997, noted that Garrett Hardin, a former member of FAIR’s board, wanted “’to encourage the breeding of more intelligent people rather than the less intelligent.’” As Carlson noted, when “asked to comment on Mr. Hardin's statement, [FAIR President Dan] Stein doesn’t even pause. ‘Yeah, so what?’ he replies. ‘What is your problem with that? Should we be subsidizing people with low IQs to have as many children as possible, and not subsidizing those with high ones?’”
Stein also said it had been his job at FAIR to “get every dime of Pioneer's money"—“Pioneer” referring to a foundation established in 1937 to support "research in heredity and eugenics." For the record, Stein is the guy who does the bulk of FAIR’s lobbying today, including to allow the Department of Homeland Security to use DACA information to compile a deportation list.
Harte has passed on, so we don’t know whether she would support using DACA information to compile that deportation list, but given Epstein and Collins’ ongoing involvement, presumably they do. It’s also reasonable to conjecture that founder and funder of FAIR and its sister organizations, NumbersUSA and the Center for Immigration Studies, Dr. John Tanton, would approve of FAIR’s lobbying push. Tanton, a Michigan doctor, had a deep interest in population control, zero population growth, and abortion, which led him to anti-immigration advocacy.
What is less reasonable is that Republican Members of Congress, or indeed pro-life Republicans, would consider FAIR an “ally” or credible source of information or policy guidance.
It’s also bizarre that in a party that still exhibits much enthusiasm for limited government, and privacy rights, many members of which were rightly, deeply outraged by NSA spying on Americans under President Obama, an organization pushing what FAIR is with regard to DACA information would have currency—though hopefully support for using DACA details to compile that DREAMer deportation list has less support within the congressional GOP than FAIR would like.
Whatever one thinks about DREAMers—and, to be clear, polling shows that a strong majority of Republican voters want to shield them from deportation just like President Trump—taking a stance against government departments engaging in aggressive sharing of individuals’ personal information, which can only strengthen and enable the surveillance state, should not be hard.
Calls to allow the Department of Homeland Security to use DACA data to create or add to a deportation list should be rejected, especially by Republicans who stand for smaller, less intrusive government.
Disclosure note: I'm a long time proponent of allowing DREAMers to remain and work in the US, and a longtime advocate for comprehensive immigration reform, on my own behalf and on behalf of my church. I also have worked with a vast array of immigration reform advocates in common pursuit of those goals. But like a lot of libertarians, I did not support DACA as a mechanism for protecting DREAMers and voiced constitutional concerns about it.