Five years ago, President Obama ordered that young illegal immigrants be protected from deportation, a program known as DACA. As a candidate, Donald Trump promised to rescind that protection. He could have done it on his first day in office—but he didn’t, and still hasn’t, for reasons no one quite understands.
Now, President Trump appears poised to revoke DACA. The action has not been officially announced, and administration sources believe that the impulsive president’s mind is not totally made up, but he is reportedly planning to do so as soon as Friday.
If he does, he will have effectively been boxed in by immigration restrictionists—potentially against his own better political judgment. “I do not think Trump wants to do this,” Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, told me. “But they’ve cornered him. This artificial deadline has created the moment the opposition needed to force a decision.”
Immigration policy is the battleground for the White House’s warring factions, and DACA is ground zero. Around 750,000 undocumented youths now benefit from the program, which allows them to work and go to school without fear of deportation. Allowing the so-called “Dreamers” to stay is broadly popular even with Trump’s base: Nearly 80 percent of Republicans, and three-quarters of Trump voters, support it. But immigration hardliners like the pundit Ann Coulter, Breitbart, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have been vocal proponents of ending the policy.