Not content with attempting to work with Congress, even in the first two years of his presidency when his party held a majority in both houses, President Obama bragged, “I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone,” and then promptly embarked on the most ambitious – and unlawful series of Executive Orders in presidential history.

Defenders of Obama’s actions will point out that other presidents also issued such orders, ignoring that it isn’t the number that is significant, but rather the constitutionality and subject matter of the president’s unilateral actions that should be of concern.

In fact, Obama’s EOs have been struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court for exceeding his constitutional authority.

Now, one of his most cherished and most controversial orders, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which effectively granted amnesty to 4 million adults who had been brought to the United States as children illegally by their parents and made no move to become legal citizens, is at the center of a debate between the incoming Trump administration and a bipartisan effort in Congress with far-reaching consequences.

During the campaign, Trump stressed the need to enforce existing immigration laws already on the books and clearly resonated with voters as he carried counties that stretched across America, while Clinton’s appeal was limited to the fringe of the continent on both coasts, in the large cities and liberal northeast.

So, while Trump will have the power to use his own pen and clearly has the ability to pick up his phone and call anyone he wants – including the CEO of Carrier’s parent company and the president of Taiwan, he may wait to see if he can work with Congress on immigration reform.

That desire may be hampered by efforts on both sides of the aisle to enact legislation limiting deportations of the so-called “Dreamers” protected by Obama’s illegal immigration executive order, DACA.

Lawmakers have expressed concern that a rescission of Obama’s order would inflict undue hardship on those who had relied on the promise of a president and would now face deportation.

Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (Illinois)  and Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina want to shield the 4 million from deported if they grew up in the United States and do not have criminal convictions.

Although Obama insisted on referring to them as “children,” in fact the order specifically applies to anyone 35-years-of-age or younger who was brought to the U.S. illegally as a child.

To date, the president-elect he has not telegraphed the disdain for working with Congress his predecessor held and may be open to a compromise that would allow him to go forward on some of his campaign promises while adopting a lenient stance on the millions impacted by the DACA “amnesty.”

Durbin says he and Graham hope to have the bill ready before Congress leaves for Christmas break, but acknowledge the odds are against it.

Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona has indicated he may join the effort – 31 percent of his state is Hispanic, but has expressed his desire to work with the Trump administration, noting that although Obama’s order was unconstitutional, “I do want to protect kids that were brought here.”

 

 
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