Remember when Democrats cheered on President Barack Obama when he said, "I have a pen and phone" and "If Congress doesn't act, I will," as though it was fantastic poetry?
How times have changed.
Obama, frustrated with the inability of Congress to do what he wanted (and with voters for electing Republicans) decided to take matters into his hands to deal with the people referred to as "Dreamers" -- illegal immigrants who came to the United States as children. The DACA program allowed for them to stay in the U.S., work, and not fear deportation as long as they met certain conditions.
DACA went hand-in-hand with DAPA, a similar program aimed at parents. The Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents targeted about 4.3 million undocumented parents of citizens and legal residents. The Supreme Court's 4-4 decision in 2016 left the 5th circuit of appeals ruling, that Obama exceeded his constitutional authority, in place.
Legal scholars say DACA would likely not withstand judicial scrutiny. Even supporters of the program knew Obama was on shaky ground legally. Still, from a political perspective, Democrats didn't care. They yielded their constitutional authority to the president because they liked the result. Democrats made two assumptions. First, they assumed a new administration, even a Republican one, would not rescind the program. Second, they likely expected victory in the courts.
Both assumptions were faulty, and President Trump was under the threat of a lawsuit from ten different states. Trump made a choice, and in this case, it was the right one. Rather than end the program immediately, Trump threw it back to Congress. Despite Trump's most ardent supporters happy to see him rescind the plan, the president indicated on more than one occasion he was willing to sign legislation keeping the program in place -- legally.
That didn't matter. The moment Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the administration was rescinding DACA, Democrats lost their collective minds. They lashed out on social media and with public statements, decrying the decision using such terms as "heartless" and whatever synonyms they could think of to describe it. Obama issued a lengthy statement on Facebook labeling the decision as one based on politics and not the law (ignoring the lawsuits 10 states' attorneys general were on the cusp of filing). Attorneys general in 15 states filed suit against the Trump administration.
The lawsuit, even from a layman's perspective, is a joke. The states are saying most of those who benefit from DACA are from Mexico. Based on that and Trump's statements about Mexico during the campaign, his ending DACA is a violation of equal protection under the law. Of course, the president didn't end the program just for Mexicans. He ended the program entirely. The equal protection argument is absurd.
The Democrats' real position is one in which they're saying it is legitimate for Obama to have acted unilaterally to create DACA but that Trump doesn't have the same power to rescind it.
The result is not surprising. Many Democrats see Trump as an illegitimate president and therefore do not recognize his authority. Their opinions only count in the political sense and to their donors and supporters. Under the Constitution, Trump possesses the same powers of the office his predecessor did.
The rule of law doesn't change on whim because Democrats don't like the person executing those laws. Democrats were warned about Obama's frequent abuse of executive power. He couldn't get the legislation he wanted, and so he went off on his own. Obama and Democrats who let him get away with it created the problem for those eligible for DACA, not Trump.
Jay Caruso (@JayCaruso) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog. He is an editorial writer at the Dallas Morning News.
If you would like to write an op-ed for the Washington Examiner, please read our guidelines on submissions here.