Commentary and Background on the DACA Decision 

President Trump announced last week via U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions that he is ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that President Obama instituted in 2012 by executive order. DACA allows for certain illegal immigrants who entered the country as minors to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and eligibility for a work permit.

Under this decision, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will rescind the executive order that established DACA and not accept new program applicants. It puts 800,000 “dreamers” (including an estimated 10,000 Hoosiers) – children who arrived in the U.S. illegally with their parents at a young age – into legal limbo until it takes effect March 2018. This is an unfortunate turn of events for a demographic group where 90% are either in college or working.

As a result, 15 state attorneys general (all Democrats) filed suit this week to block the President’s plan to end DACA.

During the announcement, Sessions commented that actions under the Obama administration were unconstitutional and that the program should be enacted by Congress. Even Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) implied that President Obama’s executive order to protect young immigrants brought here as minors was on shaky legal ground and that is why Congress must act.

Over the next six months, President Trump is counting on Congress to do just that and essentially fix the DACA situation once and for all.

The Indiana Chamber believes lawmakers must address the issue as part of a larger immigration reform package, but it remains unclear whether both sides can compromise to reach a solution. Some are adamant that they will not accept any deal to fund even small amounts of a border wall or increased immigration enforcement, and cuts to legal immigration would be unacceptable. Other members of Congress are saying you need to pass this as part of border security, while a contingent believes you need to pass this on its own – which makes the possibility of its success very difficult.

On Wednesday, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) said he was open to adding legal status for DACA recipients to his RAISE Act legislation – the goal of which is to build a skills-based immigration system similar to Canada or Australia while decreasing the amount of legal immigration overall.

Indiana’s senators Joe Donnelly and Todd Young reacted to the DACA news.
“Our country is still in need of reforms to fix our immigration system and strengthen border security, but in the interim we should pass bipartisan legislation to give these young people, who were brought here through no fault of their own, some stability and clarity,” Donnelly said.

“Upending existing protections for the nearly 10,000 young people in Indiana who have been here for most of their lives isn’t the path we should take.” Young stated: “I continue to believe we must secure our southern border and fix our broken immigration system. Irrespective of (the Trump) announcement, that requires a bipartisan solution in Congress that reforms our legal immigration system, prevents illegal immigration and addresses the question of what to do with undocumented men, women and children already here.”

BACKGROUND

So how did we get to this point with DACA and immigration? It’s been many years in the making. Attempts to address illegal immigrants who entered this country as minors date back to as early as 2001.

In 2007, the DREAM (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) Act was introduced in the Senate. The Act allowed for a process by which qualifying alien minors would first be granted conditional residency. Eventually, by meeting further qualifications, permanent residency status could be obtained. It failed to be brought up in debate for lack of a filibuster-proof 60 votes. In 2009, it was reintroduced in both the Senate and House, and provided for qualifying immigrants who were between the ages of 12 and 35 at the time of enactment; who arrived in the U.S. before 16 years of age; resided continuously in the U.S. for five years; graduated from high school or obtained a GED; and were of good moral character. The bill continued debate into 2010 when the House passed a version, but the bill again failed to reach the 60-vote threshold in the Senate. Unsuccessful attempts were made in 2011 as well.

As a result of Congress’ inability to pass legislation, the Obama administration by executive order implemented the policy position of DACA in June 2012.
In 2013, the U.S. Senate’s “Gang of Eight” passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill in the Senate. In 2014, the House indicated it had the votes to pass the bill. However, when House Majority Leader Eric Cantor lost his primary election, House Speaker John Boehner announced that the House would not bring the bill to a vote. As a result, President Obama promised to fix the immigration system as much as possible on his own without Congress and attempted to expand DACA to include the parents (known as DAPA) of these minors. In a memorandum to ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement), aliens without criminal histories were to be made the lowest priority and that illegal immigrants who are the parents of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents were to be granted deferred action.

Subsequently, the Texas attorney general – joined by 25 other Republican-led states, including Indiana – sued in federal court in Texas to prevent implementation of the expansion. The case eventually worked its way to the U.S. Supreme Court and in June of 2016, a deadlocked 4-4 decision stated that: “The judgement is affirmed by an equally divided court.”  The ruling set no precedent and simply left in place the lower court’s preliminary injunction blocking the program.

Earlier this summer, on June 15, 2017, then Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly signed a memo rescinding DAPA. At that time, it was clarified that the memo did not include DACA and the Trump administration had not decided on whether it would keep that policy in place.

Which brings us to action last week on September 5. Attorney generals from nine states – led by Texas – notified the Justice Department that they would amend the current DAPA lawsuit to include DACA if executive action wasn’t taken by September 5 to phase it out, which prompted the announcement by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Session.

Elephant Race: Analyst Ranks ’16 GOP Candidates

AGreg Valliere of the Potomac Research Group recently ranked the likelihood of 10 Republican hopefuls for the 2016 candidacy for President. Business Insider offers a summary for each candidate, but here’s the list. (And you’ll notice our governor made the list — and some in the media speculate he has a much better shot than that.):

10. Mike Pence
9. Scott Walker
8. Rick Santorum
7. Paul Ryan
6. Chris Christie
5. Mitt Romney
4. Ted Cruz
3. Rand Paul
2. Marco Rubio
1. Jeb Bush

Throwback Thursday: Remembering the Election of a Hoosier President

If you haven’t been to the Benjamin Harrison Home in downtown Indianapolis, you should check it out. This is where Harrison lived when he won the 1888 election in a year that proved to be quite monumental for the city and state. And here are some interesting facts from the Harrison Home’s November 2013 newsletter, “The Car-O-Line.”

Statistics of 1888 Election

  • Five parties were on the ballot – Republican, Democrat, Prohibition, Union Labor and American
  • Harrison actually lost the popular vote to Grover Cleveland (5,538,163 to 5,443,633)
  • Here is a fun web site to learn more about this and other elections
  • The 1888 election was not the first or only time a candidate won the popular vote but lost the election. It has happened three other times in our nation’s history:
  1. In 1824, Andrew Jackson won the popular vote but got less than 50% of the electoral votes. John Quincy Adams became the next president when he was picked by the House of Representatives
  2. In 1876, Samuel Tilden won the popular vote but lost the election when Rutherford B. Hayes got 185 electoral votes to Tilden’s 184.In 2000, Al Gore won the popular vote but lost the election to George W. Bush.
  3. In the most highly contested election in modern history, the U.S. Supreme Court stopped the Florida recount of ballots, giving Bush the state’s 25 electoral votes for a total of 271 to Gore’s 255

Indiana Could be Factor in GOP Primary

Whether in support of Romney, Gingrich, or even Paul, Indiana Republicans and primary crossovers could play a key role in deciding who the 2012 GOP presidential nominee will be. The Times of Northwest Indiana reports how:

The early presidential caucus and primary states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina will be the center of the Republican Party’s world next month, but Indiana’s May 8 primary could prove more important.

Republican Party rule changes, penalties for early primary states, and candidates with enough money and supporters to remain in the race may all combine to give Indiana Republicans a taste of the campaign fun Democrats enjoyed in 2008.

Gov. Mitch Daniels is among the Hoosier Republicans rooting for a drawn-out nominating process.

"One can conjure a scenario … that might lead to a situation that’s still in play when May gets here, and that’d be terrific," Daniels said. "I thought it was so great when it mattered on the Democratic side last time."

Republicans changed their rules for awarding convention delegates last year hoping to capture the excitement Democrats had as Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton battled for months to win the nomination in 2008.

As a result, most early primary states in 2012 will award convention delegates proportionately, based on a candidate’s share of the state’s primary vote, instead of winner-take-all.

In addition, five states that moved their primaries to before March 1 were penalized by the GOP and lost half their delegates.

That means the minimum 1,142 delegates needed for nomination won’t be selected until March 24 and no candidate is likely to win every one of them, putting later primary states with a lot of delegates, such as Indiana’s 46, in play.

Jesse Benton, campaign manager for Ron Paul, said the Texas congressman will strategically compete for delegates throughout the primary process.

"Our campaign has a comprehensive plan to win the delegates needed to either secure the nomination or enter into a brokered convention in Tampa," Benton told POLITICO.

The last time a Republican convention opened without the front-runner in control of enough delegates to win the nomination was 1976 when Ronald Reagan tried to wrest the GOP nomination from President Gerald Ford. Ford lost in the general election that year to Jimmy Carter.

Daniels, who briefly considered running for president earlier this year, believes a brokered convention might not be all bad, even though intra-party fights tend to turn off undecided general election voters.

"At a time when the country is facing just terribly consequential issues, if it led to a good healthy debate about not merely personalities but about what kind of program of change to bring to America, I could convince myself it’s not the worst outcome," Daniels said.

The term-limited governor said he won’t be throwing his hat in the ring at a brokered convention, but he’d enjoy watching it.

"I’ve always said the greatest spectator sport, forget the Super Bowl, if either party ever had a truly deliberative convention in the mini-camera world, it would be spectacular," Daniels said.

Not all Republicans believe the nomination will be up in the air when their convention begins Aug. 27.

Schererville Republican Dan Dumezich, who is leading Mitt Romney’s Indiana campaign, is confident the former Massachusetts governor will have the nomination locked up.

"I think we’re going to have an answer a lot sooner than most people think," Dumezich said. "I’m hoping we have one by January 31."

Revising the Electoral College: Time for a Change?

I, and many others it’s safe to say, are not in the habit of seeing something happen in California and wondering if that might be a good idea for the rest of the country. I’m not going to go that far here either, but at least this California development is worthy of debate.

Governor Jerry Brown has made his state the ninth (I honestly don’t know who the other eight are other than a reference to all being "solidly blue") to strive to change the way the president of the United States is elected. The group, now representing 132 electoral votes, wants to award those electoral votes to the candidate who earns the most votes at the ballot box nationwide.

A couple of law professors have spearheaded the initiative, which apparently has been around for nearly a decade. There is some credence to the fact that a small number of swing states seemingly hold a level of power far exceeding what would be expected. You can put Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania and a few others (Iowa and New Hampshire at this time of the year) in that mix.

But maybe it’s just the biggest of the big — California, New York, Texas, etc. — complaining because they get little attention during the campaigns. And then there is the Indiana scenario, relatively forgotten based on its late primary date and consistent GOP backing until the spotlight shined brightly in both the spring and fall of 2008.

Does this measure give every state a real voice, as the supporters say? Check out the full story and let us know what you think.

WSJ: Pence for President in 2012?

I know, I know. This is likely one of umpteen articles you’ll encounter on this subject, but it’s from the Wall Street Journal so I figure it warrants mentioning. Though Mike Pence is now considered by many to have a firm grip on the 2012 Indiana Governor’s race should he choose to enter, some speculate he may not be such a longshot to earn the GOP nomination for President.

A former radio personality, the 51-year-old Mr. Pence became a darling among fiscal conservatives for opposing two of President George W. Bush’s signature initiatives, the 2001 No Child Left Behind education act and the 2003 Medicare Part D drug benefit. He saw both as violating his party’s small-government principles.

Mr. Pence favors reducing the size of the federal government, and even the power of the presidency. He wants to amend the Constitution both to ban abortions and to allow marriage only between men and women. He says increased security along the Mexican border must precede any immigration overhaul.

Mr. Pence was also among the first congressmen to jump on the tea-party wave in early 2009, speaking at rallies across Indiana and in Washington.

It was his speech at the Values Voter Summit, a marquee annual event among social conservative groups, which did the most to rouse support. The speech, with its calls to ban all federal abortion funding and stem-cell research, drew standing ovations and chants of "President Pence."

When summit attendees cast ballots in a straw poll for president, Mr. Pence came in first, ahead of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and others.

For many conservatives, Mr. Pence holds much the same allure that Mr. Huckabee did in the 2008 campaign. Mr. Huckabee tapped into support from home-schoolers and evangelicals to pull off a surprise win in the Iowa caucus, though could never catch Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.), the eventual nominee.

"The big question with Huckabee is whether he can raise enough money to be a real contender in 2012," says Tom Minnery, head of public policy for Focus on the Family. As a fresher face, he says, Mr. Pence "is someone who could generate a lot of enthusiasm" in Iowa and other early nominating states and possibly show more durability in the long presidential campaign.

The Indiana lawmaker, who first won election to Congress in 2000, also has the backing of budget hawks such as Chris Chocola, a former Indiana congressman who is now president of the fiscally conservative Club for Growth. "Mike has the retail appeal of Huckabee but is an across-the-board conservative with all the credentials. There is no one else like that," says Mr. Chocola.

Feeding speculation about his presidential ambitions, Mr. Pence has visited Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina in the past year, all states with early roles in the nominating process. And yet Mr. Pence and others in his camp continue to drop hints that he’s shying from a White House run. The thought of a presidential campaign, Mr. Pence said in an interview, "is more humbling than tempting."He says he’s weary of Washington. "I prefer the Flat Rock River to the Potomac River, and the Flat Rock is about a half a block from my house," he said.

Hoosiers Mentioned in Early GOP Talks for 2012

Should probably pace myself on the 2012 talk, but what the heck, we need something to get excited about: Chris Cillizza of "The Fix" offers a blog post on the top 10 contenders for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012. And wouldn’t you know it, two Hoosiers are right there in the mix:

9. Mike Pence: Pence’s decision to step aside as the fourth ranking Republican in the House makes clear that he has his eye on a bigger prize. His allies cast him as the only candidate in the field who can unite social and fiscal conservatives and, in the early cattle calls, Pence has performed well. Still, as a House member, he has to overcome a perceived stature gap as well as show he can raise the money to be competitive.

7. Mitch Daniels: The Indiana governor is term limited out of office in 2012 and, despite saying he would never run for another job, certainly seems to be weighing a presidential bid. Daniels ran and won as an outsider in Indiana and had built a record over the past six years in office that makes fiscal conservatives smile. Daniels’ problem? He doesn’t have much interest in the cultural wars that are so important to social conservatives. Can someone focused almost exclusively on fiscal issues win a Republican primary for president?

And this is a stretch, but … on the other side, this op-ed was published in The Washington Post Sunday, arguing that Obama would benefit his party, himself, and the country most by not seeking re-election. Doubtful, but it’s an interesting argument. Should he heed this advice, one wonders if it may open the door for a more centrist Democratic candidate in 2012 — perhaps a certain former governor/soon-to-be former senator. Time will tell.

An Endorsement — Not — for Palin

I don’t feel I’m exactly going out on a limb when I say I don’t consider Sarah Palin a legitimate presidential candidate in 2012. It’s a little more interesting, however, when a key Republican player addresses the topic.

Steve Schmidt was chief strategist for John McCain’s presidential run. He said this last week about the former Alaska governor:  "My honest view is that she would not be a winning candidate for the Republican Party, and in fact were she to be the nominee, we could have a catastrophic result."

The CongressDaily update from the National Journal also reported:

Schmidt, who backed McCain’s choice of Palin as his running mate but clashed with her advisers, added: "I don’t think it’s inconceivable that she could be the Republican nominee for president of the United States. I think it’s almost inconceivable that she could be elected president of the United States."

Schmidt’s assessment came as he shared the stage with longtime Democratic strategist Bob Shrum at a forum sponsored by the Atlantic and the Aspen Institute.

Shrum jumped in as soon as Schmidt suggested Palin couldn’t win, joking, "Let me endorse Sarah Palin for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012."

The public perception of Palin during the campaign and her subsequent messy exit from the governor’s post will, in this corner, leave her a popular speaker/guest at events of all kinds but not a serious candidate on the national stage.

At Least They’re Not Messing with the Days on Task

Education funding is always a contentious issue at the Statehouse, but the battle is rising to a new level this time around (as we have heard over and over and over). Past disagreements largely centered on the level of spending increases. With fewer dollars available, it’s a case of where are they going to go — to students or districts.

The budget is filled with education measures beyond the funding fight. One issue thankfully not on the table, at least for now, is minimizing the 180-day school year. Chamber education expert Derek Redelman reported it this way following the end of the regular session.

In recent months, we have heard from a new president, from a new secretary of education, from a film comparing Carmel students to those in India and China (see here) and from multiple other sources that American students spent far too little time in school. So it was a bit shocking to see at least six different bills filed this year that would have allowed Indiana’s school year to be shortened.

The Chamber fought these bills vigourously and most never even got a hearing. The one bill that did get a hearing was talked about by House Education Chairman Greg Porter (D-Indianapolis), who acknowledged that a reduced school year would be most harmful to the low-income students he represents.

Things all changed when Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett announced mid-session that the Indiana Department of Education would enforce current law and would no longer allow schools to count parent-teacher conferences and professional development days as student instructional time. He also announced much less flexibility in the waiver of inclement weather days. It was a decision backed by 20 years of Indiana law and one the Indiana Chamber applauded loudly, but it was also widely criticized by House Democrats, who vowed to block it through legislation. Though Rep. Porter offered the legislation intended to accomplish that goal, it ultimately failed.

Indy Columnist Analyzes National Mitch-Mania

The Indianapolis Star’s Matthew Tully offers analysis on just why it is national talking heads have become so enamored with Indiana’s governor. This comes on the heels of National Review — a magazine popular in some GOP circles — making Mitch its cover story this week. Tully surmises:

Question: Why does the national media suddenly have a crush on Daniels?

Answer: Two reasons: First, he’s blunt and always has something interesting to say. That got him in trouble in Indiana a few years back but plays well on the national stage. Second, unlike many other Republicans, he won last year. It makes sense that political watchers would turn to someone who, as the National Review wrote, "has been able to achieve success in the face of prevailing political and economic headwinds." (It should be noted that Daniels overcame relatively light headwinds by running against Jill Long Thompson, one of the weakest candidates Indiana had seen in decades.)

Q: Does any of this suggest the governor is running for president?

A: Daniels has insisted he will not be a candidate for president in 2012, and most Indiana political insiders believe him. That is likely to keep his profile lower than that of others who are dreaming about the White House. But Daniels’ noncandidacy adds heft to his advice for the national Republican Party. After all, if he’s not angling for a bigger job, everything he says can be taken as an honest appraisal of the party or policy issues — and not a calculated move intended to build support among GOP primary voters.

Q: So what’s his angle?

A: Well, I’d never presume to know what’s going on inside Daniels’ head. But it’s hard to deny he is a man of big ideas, and a guy who enjoys offering those ideas publicly so that others can debate them. He is clearly disappointed with the state of the Republican Party. It makes sense that he would try to draw attention to some of his ideas for the GOP — such as the very sensible idea of actually having ideas.