The Future Woes of Executive Orders in the Immigration Context
Written by: E. Nicole Kozycki, Esq. Kozycki Law, LLC
President Obama on multiple occasions throughout his Presidency attempted to unilaterally pursue positive change in the immigration context through executive orders as allowed by the Constitution. These written directives are issued to achieve certain measures by executive branch officials and agencies without approval by Congress or other legislative bodies. Certainly, the most prominent and widely known executive order was for Deferred Action of Childhood Arrivals, also known as DACA. While not technically a law or published statute, DACA allowed United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to issue employment authorization and a promise of deportation protection to over 741,546 previously undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as minors and met other stringent requirements.
An important purpose behind this executive order was to secure some economic benefit to the United States from those individuals who came to this country as children with their parents, some legally and most illegally, who have received their education in the U.S. and can be employed and fruitful individuals who contribute to the economy. Aside from the economic benefit, there are simply not enough resources to deport every illegal alien in the country. A system to set aside those who are a very low priority for deportation, such as educated individuals with little to no criminal history, eases the burden on the enforcement agencies tasked with deportation review and procedures.
Along with the benefit of swift and effective policy directives issued by the President, is the pitfall that such a directive can just as expeditiously be repealed by a new administration. President-elect Donald Trump has vowed on numerous occasions and on his officially published plan for immigration to immediately terminate DACA, triple enforcement power for deportation of illegal immigrants, and begin immediate deportation of every individual without lawful status. Promised within the “first hour” of his presidency, this action can be done at any point in the next four years of his presidency, and will remain a cause of worry for both approved DACA holders and their employers.
The practical effect of ending DACA is that not only would each person become deportable immediately, but also their employment authorization that was effective pursuant to the DACA approval would immediately be revoked. The economic consequences of this would be drastic and devastating. The Center of American Progress estimates that “ending DACA would reduce the nation’s GDP by $433.4 billion over a decade.” It is further estimated by the Immigrant Legal Resource Center that “ending DACA would reduce Social Security and Medicare tax contributions by $24.6 billion over a decade, half of which would have been paid by employers.” Immediately ending employment for such a large amount of people would have dramatic turnover implications for employers, especially small businesses that would have to hire and train new workers with little to no notice.
Looking forward, not only are there looming possibilities that President Obama’s executive orders would be repealed, but President-elect Trump after taking office can pursue similar executive orders that may, instead of providing benefit for the immigrant population, only hinder their chance of productive life and assimilation into a country where many have lived for decades. It is unknown what the future for immigration reform may be under the incoming administration, but only time will tell past the “first hour” promises that have been made thus far.