Here's Why DACA Citizenship Opponents Might Want to Support It Anyway

Putting DACA recipients on a pathway to citizenship deprives Democrats of something they need and the Democrats know it.

During President Trump’s State of the Union address, he laid out four pillars he felt were necessary to a compromise on immigration.

“The first pillar of our framework generously offers a path to citizenship for 1.8 million illegal immigrants who were brought here by their parents at a young age….The second pillar fully secures the border.… The third pillar ends the visa lottery -- a program that randomly hands out green cards without any regard for skill, merit, or the safety of our people.… The fourth and final pillar protects the nuclear family by ending chain migration,” said the President in the House of Representatives. The President’s plan for DACA citizenship would be a twelve year plan requiring education, work, or military service without conviction of crimes during that time.

Many of the President’s most ardent supports vocally support the second, third, and fourth pillars of his plan, but they equally oppose his first. Some of his supporters have taken to calling the President “Amnesty Don.” There are actually real and serious public policy concerns for deporting all illegal immigrants, including DACA recipients, that have nothing to do with race. Democrats want to treat any such policy proposal as racist and they do so to their detriment and the detriment of any serious discussion on the issue.

There are also a lot of people who refuse to budge on the issue of mass deportation because of their concerns about law and order. That is fair, but this is a political discussion and political compromises will be had. The majority of the country supports giving DACA recipients a pathway to citizenship. As such, some in the White House who adamantly oppose giving DACA recipients citizenship have decided to embrace a pathway for the 1.8 million proposed by President Trump. It is purely for practical reasons those opposed should at least try to understand.

First, who are the DACA recipients? They are the children of illegal aliens who were brought here by their parents. Many of them have been here from such a young age that they have little memory of their native countries. According to Pew Research Center from September of last year, 79.4% of DACA recipients come from Mexico. El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Peru round out the top five. South Korea is at six. The Philippines and India are in the top fifteen. The Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim metropolitan area has the largest number of DACA recipients, followed by the New York City-Newark-Jersey City area. Metropolitan areas around Dallas, Houston, and Chicago round out the top five. Half of DACA recipients live in California and Texas. They are mostly women, mostly single, and mostly between the ages of sixteen and twenty-five.

So why would the Trump administration officials who oppose giving these people citizenship suddenly support it? Put simply, it will deprive Democrats of their most compelling narrative for citizenship. According to repeated surveys by multiple pollsters, at least 65% of President Trump’s own supporters support a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients. While you may not support it, disabuse yourself of the idea that you are in the majority even if you think you are right.

The problem for Democrats is that outside of the DACA recipients, public support for citizenship goes downhill. While many Americans would be willing to give legal residency to the parents of DACA recipients, there is no clear majority willing to give them citizenship. Republicans are calculating that if they give DACA recipients citizenship, they will have deprived Democrats of their most photogenic playing card in the immigration debate. As long as DACA recipients are hostages to to debate, Democrats have the upper hand pushing for mass citizenship.

Democrats know this too. That is why Democrats are pushing for a total citizenship package beyond DACA recipients. They know if Donald Trump is successful, he will have deprived them of their most compelling argument for mass citizenship. The GOP will not control all of Washington forever. If Republicans take the DACA card off the table while they can, they will make it harder for Democrats to pass a blanket amnesty later.


Cynicalnerd had the most logical approach. Otherwise, ship them home. I'm sorry their parent(s) screwed up. They seem to love their heritage more than this country's heritage, so that should be enough for them to move back to their home country and start the process like the legal ones have done for years. They've done nothing to learn how to be Americans, except how to milk the system. I have to go to the back of the line when I return a store purchase. I have to get in back of the line when I buy gas. I have to get in the back of the line at the license bureau. Welcome to the back of the line.

We can turn the demographics in our favor. Yes, build the wall, end the visa lottery, reduce immigration quotas, and reform chain migration going forward. But let's be honest about the fact that for the last several decades, the US Chamber of Commerce and several industries lobbied Congress for lax enforcement of the immigration laws. Those people came here because we let them; we wanted their cheap labor. The consequences of getting caught were virtually non-existent, and the reward was making up to ten times as much as you could make in Mexico. It's a risk that any one of us would have taken.

El Paso, our largest border city with a population of 970,000 that's 85% Hispanic, elected a Republican mayor in 2016, because no Republican in El Paso talks about deporting the friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, and fellow church goers who are here illegally. When I lived in El Paso in 1974, my boss, a white Conservative, was elected Mayor of El Paso by a landslide on a platform of giving Hispanics equal economic opportunity in Small Business. That's all they wanted to hear.

By treating those who came here during that long period of lax enforcement humanely, we could get the majority of the HIspanic vote going forward by doing something for them that the Democrats have never done.

"So why would the Trump administration officials who oppose giving these people citizenship suddenly support it?"

Because they never opposed it in the first place. Trump has repeatedly stated from his campaign days until now that he supports Ivanka's desire for amnesty. To now claim that it was some sort of 4-D chess move to expose Democrats is the classic dodge to justifying a flip-flop.


I for one do not want thousands of stateless young people hanging on the fringes of the republic. If they are qualified for DACA, they should be qualified for citizenship. No, the Democrats will find something else horrible to call the GOP. If they keep basing their narrative on insults, they will continue to lose the electorate.

Trump has been all over the place on amnesty since the election. Before the election, he was clearly articulating a much stronger position against amnesty. I agree with you that his latest about face is not tactical -- just a cave and abandonment of his signature issue and the people that supported him on it. Guess he really is a politician after all.

How much provable data do we have on DACA and the dreamers, they are different? Age, military service, have jobs, years of education in U,S. schools, criminal record, and ability to speak English? What about the ten year old who was sent across the border, ( a case for the wall)? How many of these never appeared for a hearing?

Where does Trump compromise from here? Well he adds to the amnesty numbers and/or he pulls back on the other pillars. Doesn't sound like the ending point is going to amount to much of an improvement actually if you figure that you don't have people that truly want or need to make a deal this will end up like the 1986 amnesty deal. We still get a lot of illegals and promised changes get undercut or ignored.

I can understand Erick's point, but I think that mandatory E-verify should also be one of the pillars. Enforcement is easier when the incentive for breaking the law is reduced, and mandatory E-verify would weaken the jobs magnet. Trump should also implement a visa overstay tracking system, which I believe is already authorized.