From Orlando Sentinel’s Steven Lemongello, 2/01/2019:
U.S. Sen. Rick Scott called for President Trump to use his executive powers to find “a permanent solution” for Dreamers if Congress doesn’t agree to an immigration deal.
But Scott’s call for an executive order on DACA is a stark departure from his earlier position, during the Obama administration, that presidents didn’t have the authority to unilaterally address the issue – a flip-flop that Scott himself acknowledged.
In his statement on DACA and in a Washington Post op-ed, meanwhile, Scott also didn’t mention it was Trump who ordered an end to the DACA program in the first place.
In his remarks Thursday, Scott wrote Trump “tried” to work with Congress, but “if the Dems continue to refuse to work with him, then the President needs to use his emergency powers to fund border security and include a permanent solution for DACA and TPS.”
DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, was created by President Obama in 2012 to protect people brought into the country illegally as children from deportation. TPS, or Temporary Protected Status, allows immigrants from countries considered dangerous to stay in the U.S.
“I know there will be critics that say the President shouldn’t do things like this by executive order,” Scott said Thursday. “And they aren’t necessarily wrong. I was critical of Obama when he tried to solve the DACA issue by EO.”
In 2017, Scott wrote in a statement that, “Obama was wrong to address the Dreamers issue by Executive Order.”
“He should have done it in conjunction with Congress, which is how we make laws in our democracy,” Scott wrote at the time. “But this issue must be addressed. I do not favor punishing children for the actions of their parents.”
Scott said something similar in a veto message in 2013, writing DACA “was never passed by Congress, nor is it a promulgated rule.”
In his op-ed Friday, Scott again stated he was in favor of DACA, writing, “My state of Florida is home to more than 27,000 dreamers. The notion that we would — after educating them, protecting them and raising them — kick them out of the country, well, it’s just absurd.”
But the op-ed also didn’t mention his call the day before for Trump to use his emergency powers, focusing entirely on Congress.
Scott argued “the vast majority of Republicans” in Congress are ready to make a deal with Democrats to permanently address DACA in return for “some kind of physical barriers” on the southern border.
He blamed Democrats for not agreeing to such a deal, saying that they had supported physical barriers in the past, “but they won’t do so now because of their hatred of the president of the United States.”
“Hate is bad that way; it clouds your judgment,” Scott wrote. “As former senator Alan Simpson said at the funeral for former president George H.W. Bush, ‘Hatred corrodes the container it’s carried in.’ That’s the predicament that Democratic leaders find themselves in now. They hate President Trump so much that they cannot behave in a rational manner.”
Trump, however, is the reason DACA is in limbo, having ordered an end to the program in September 2017. He also scuttled a potential immigration deal with Democrats that month that would have included DACA, after it was criticized by immigration hard-liners on the right.
Trump later blamed the courts, which blocked his plan to end DACA, for giving Democrats an out. But the deal fell apart before the Ninth Circuit Court ruled on the issue.
Scott’s office referred questions on his position back to the op-ed.
On Jan. 22, Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez praised the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision not to take up the DACA case, saying in a statement, “Trump’s cruelty toward immigrants knows no bounds, but that doesn’t mean his administration can sidestep the rule of law. … It is long past time for Trump to stop using them as bargaining chips and work with Democrats to fix our broken immigration system.”
On the issue of TPS, or Temporary Protected Status for immigrants from countries in which they could be in danger, the courts have also prevented Trump from dramatic changes.
In October, a judge blocked the Trump administration from stripping TPS status from Haitians, Salvadorians and other Central American and Caribbean countries.