Society

Analysis: GOP's Immigration Sentiment Could Doom DACA

| by Robert Fowler
President Donald TrumpPresident Donald Trump

An analysis conducted by a polling website has asserted that immigration played a pivotal role in President Donald Trump's victory in the 2016 election. The analysis concluded that the hard-line immigration sentiment within the Trump base could dissuade GOP lawmakers from protecting Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program recipients.

On Sept. 5, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Trump would rescind the order that created DACA and would phase out the program by March 2018. The Trump administration asserted that former President Barack Obama had exceeded his executive authority by establishing the program, according to The Hill.

Enacted in 2012, DACA shielded immigrants who were brought into the U.S. illegally when they were under the age of 16 from deportation. It also granted recipients the opportunity to obtain a temporary work permit, a driver's license and the ability to enroll in college. Recipients were prohibited from receiving welfare or voting and were not given a path to legal residency. Currently, nearly 800,000 people are enrolled in DACA. They are sometimes called "Dreamers."

Polling indicates the majority of Americans are sympathetic to those in the DACA program. On Sept. 5, a Politico/Morning Consult survey found that only 15 percent of registered voters believed that DACA recipients should be deported. Of those polled, 84 percent of Democrats and 74 percent of Republicans said the DACA program members should stay, with an overall 58 percent of voters believing they should be given a path to citizenship, Politico reports.

Shortly after Sessions' announcement, Trump took to social media to urge Congress to provide DACA recipients with legislative protections.

"Congress now has 6 months to legalize DACA (something the Obama Administration was unable to do)," Trump tweeted. "If they can't, I will revisit this issue!"

On Sept. 12, polling analysts Harry Enten and Perry Bacon Jr. of FiveThirtyEight asserted in a review of 2016 exit polling data that the GOP-majority Congress would have more difficulty passing DACA protections than recent surveys suggest. In their view, the hard-line immigration stances of the majority of GOP voters will ultimately outweigh their sympathy for those in the DACA program.

Enten and Bacon cited universal background checks as an example for their analysis. While polling indicates the majority of Americans support background checks, Republican lawmakers have resisted any legislation for background checks because their constituents are largely against any policy that falls under the umbrella of gun control.

"In other words, gun policy divides voters along normal partisan lines, making it unlikely that Republicans would be punished for sticking to their position on a specific policy question within that issue," the analysts wrote.

Enten and Bacon asserted that DACA protections would also prove unpopular among GOP voters because Trump's hard-line immigration stance bolstered his 2016 campaign more than any other issue. The analysts cited that, based on primary exit polls, Trump did best in states where voters were most concerned about immigration during the 2016 GOP primary.

The analysts also asserted that immigration was a more animating issue among Republican voters than among Democrats. In the November 2016 election exit polls, 73 percent of Trump voters said that immigration was a "very important issue" while only 31 percent of voters who backed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton agreed.

The analysts concluded that Republican voters would be divided over DACA protections because the issue fell under the umbrella of immigration.

On Sept. 10, former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon asserted that it was a mistake for Trump to ask Congress to pass protections for DACA recipients, predicting the issue would divide the party.

"My fear is that with this six months down the range ... if this goes all the way down to its logical conclusion, in February and March it will be a civil war inside the Republican party that will be every bit as vitriolic as 2013," Bannon told CBS News' "60 Minutes."

Bannon added that he believed reinstating DACA would amount to "amnesty."

Enten and Bacon asserted that DACA protections would only be reinstated if Trump himself lobbied for the measure.

"If Trump were to push hard for a new DACA bill, hesitant Republicans might get on board," the analysts wrote. "Trump has a lot of credibility on the issue of immigration with the Republican base that other Republicans don't. If, however, Trump were to campaign heavily against replacing DACA, it's difficult to see how any bill becomes law."

Sources: CBS NewsDonald J. Trump/TwitterFiveThirtyEight, The Hill, Politico / Featured Image: Gage Skidmore/Flickr / Embedded Images: Molly Adams/Flickr, Darron Birgenheier/Flickr

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