Originally in the Raleigh News & Observer

September 8, 2017

It’s become obvious since President Trump’s ideologically driven Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced an end to the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program allowing those brought to this country illegally by their parents to live and work here without fear of deportation that the president’s not really on board. Oh, he may say he’s for it, but Trump’s wandered hither and yon on the issue, and even Sessions’ action seemed to come with some caveats, delays, etc.

But it’s still a damaging order, and it never should have happened.

Toward the end of fixing what the president’s action has broken, North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein has joined a lawsuit by attorneys general from 15 states fighting Trump’s plan. Stein is following not just his conscience, which he should do, but his belief that the law is just.

He also knows it’s important to North Carolina, which the lawsuit says has one of the “largest undocumented high school populations in the country,” noting that 31,000 students enrolled in 2015 did not have paperwork that authorized them to live in the U.S. And many students in North Carolina colleges and universities would be affected by the end of DACA, which would hurt the state’s tax base – a problem that will be felt around the country.

Stein put his view on the subject as eloquently as it’s ever been put since this issue came to the fore: “Ending DACA,” he said, “isn’t just cruel to Dreamers (another name for those in the program), against our American values, and the wrong thing to do for our nation’s economy, it also violates our Constitution.” The attorneys general, all Democrats, are arguing that Trump’s move violates equal protection and due process rights guaranteed by the Constitution.

Someone as vehement as Stein is Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who said of the lawsuit against the action, “Put yourself in their shoes. You’re a Dreamer. Our country is going to deport you back to a country you may not even know? Can it be more cruel than that? Honestly, it doesn’t make any damn sense.”

Stein’s action has a practical side. The lawsuit says, “Immigration is a vital catalyst to North Carolina’s economy.” And the immigrant population in this state has grown from 1.7 percent in 1990 to 7.6 percent in 2014, according to a center at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Before he acted, Trump talked about how much he like the Dreamers and how he was going to protect them, etc. But the president is easily manipulated by advisers and seems to sway with the winds generated by his right-wing base – a base he doesn’t even seem very comfortable with. So he pushed on with an ill-considered decision. He’s not going to fix it. But perhaps attorneys general who care more about the law, and more about these young immigrants who came here through no decision of their own, can fix it for him. And for the country.