DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, and is an Obama era executive policy that essentially grants amnesty to minors who entered the country illegally with their parents. That this is an executive policy raises constitutional issues. The legality of the act presents a moral quandary between not punishing those who’s status as an “illegal alien” is through no fault of their own, or follow the constitution which would lead to DACA being unconstitutional executive overreach.
Article 1, Section 8, Clause 4 of the Constitution delegates control over immigration to Congress. So when Obama created DACA via executive order, opponents argue that this was executive branch overreach into areas of law that are controlled by the legislative branch. The Heritage Foundation, a conservative organization, claiming DACA to be unconstitutional stating DACA gave “pseudo-legal status to illegal aliens brought to the U.S. as minors,” meaning they wouldn’t be deported and would have benefits such as work authorizations and social security. The law, they argue, does not allow the president to take such action with regards to naturalization.
Thinkprogress, a progressive, self-proclaimed news site, argues DACA’s constitutionality by pointing to a 1954 Supreme Court Case which states that “when the President acts pursuant to an express or implied authorization of Congress, his authority is at its maximum, for it includes all that he possesses in his own right plus all that Congress can delegate.” The argument goes as follows: Congress only delegates enough funds to deport about 400,000 individuals in the country illegally, prioritizing dangerous and criminal aliens over all others, despite there being over 11.3 million “illegal immigrants” in the country today. Since the enforcement of the deportation process is an executive branch matter, Congress would have “implicitly authorized” the executive branch to enact policy on behalf of the remaining ~10.9 “illegal immigrants.”
Where we stand: President Trump has ended the policy, allowing a 6-month phasing out period. However, President Trump does support the “Dreamers” staying, and in ending the policy, called on Congress to enact a policy allowing the “Dreamers” to stay, a solution that would both be within the confines of our constitution and our moral values.