The Supreme Court did the nation, and especially the Republican Party, a favor Monday by keeping the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program established by former President Barack Obama up and running for now, despite a request by the Trump administration to clear the way for it to end Monday.
The decision gives the Republicans who control Congress a desperately needed second chance to replace the program before it expires.
A replacement program was exactly what Donald Trump requested when he set this ball rolling in September. He said that while he was killing the program, he was delaying the order’s effective date by six months so Congress could find a solution. At the time, Congress vowed to try.
The Senate attempted earlier this month, but so far Congress has utterly failed to produce a replacement. Had the lower federal courts not intervened to keep the program in place while legal challenges test Trump’s authority to end it, Republicans would have been faced with a Monday deadline that no one now suspects they could have met.
That’s why all sides should be grateful that the Supreme Court rejected Trump’s petition.
There are some 700,000 “Dreamers,” people brought illegally to America as children, who are registered for the DACA program, and the White House has estimated that an additional million or more could be eligible. If the program ends, those beneficiaries will be subject to immediate deportation, and they’d lose the legal right to work in the U.S. Many Dreamers have family in America who already are citizens and would face waits as long as 20 years if they returned to their native lands and applied for a visa.
Deporting the Dreamers en masse also would be a nightmare for the Republican Party, just ahead of the fall elections. Polls show Americans overwhelmingly support a solution that will keep Dreamers protected. They also show that if Congress fails, voters will blame Republicans.
The risk to the party goes beyond general approval ratings. Across the country, the GOP will be fighting hard to keep control of the House in dozens of unusually competitive races, including Rep. Pete Sessions’ in Texas. None of those GOP candidates are eager to be painted as responsible for the Dreamer deportations.
This isn’t a new dynamic for Republicans. They rarely win general elections when they allow the race to become a referendum on hard-line immigration stances. Even Trump, famous for his hyped-up rhetoric on the border, toned down his anti-immigration talk once he won the primary. And in states such as Virginia? Just ask Ed Gillespie — once an immigration reformer — how well his rightward lurch on the issue played for him in his campaign for governor. He has plenty of free time to answer.
By Monday night, several moderate Republicans were predicting that the Senate will add a Dreamer fix to pending legislation in the next month or so. That might not be ideal, but Republicans better find something that works. Time’s running out.
— The Dallas Morning News