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Kansas Secretary Of State Wants Trump To End DACA


The fate of more than 700,000 immigrants who were brought here illegally as children may be decided on Tuesday. President Trump will determine the fate of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program known as DACA In a moment we'll hear from a Republican congressman who opposes the deportation of the DACA recipients. But first, we're going to hear from Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach who thinks it's time for DACA to go. He has advised President Trump. And we spoke to him on Friday. I started by asking him why the program should end.

KRIS KOBACH: The most important reason is that it is a violation of federal law and of the Constitution. There's actually three different federal statutes that it violates - most notably, a statute that was passed in 1996 that requires ICE agents to initiate removal proceedings. And the DACA amnesty orders the ICE agents to violate that law.

If Congress wants to pass this amnesty, they absolutely have the authority to do so. But the president doesn't have the authority to do it unilaterally. And indeed, President Obama said that more than a dozen times before he ultimately decided to go ahead and do the executive amnesty in spite of his previous statements.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I'd like to talk about the value of the program though. Ninety-one percent of DACA recipients are employed. Five percent of them have started businesses. They're paying taxes. They're buying cars and houses. They're a group of people who are contributing to the economy. There's an economic cost of pushing them out, isn't there?

KOBACH: Well, you know, you often have employment among people who are in the United States illegally. That doesn't necessarily mean, though, that the economy is better off. You need to know more. So, for example, a large percentage of the illegal alien population is employed, but many of them are employed in very low-paying jobs. And so they're also obtaining welfare benefits.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: We should be clear, though, these are legally employed because they have an amnesty.

KOBACH: Correct. But, you know, the bottom line is whether - let's imagine that these individuals were contributing huge amounts to the economy and none of them were gaining any welfare benefits. The point is it's still an amnesty that is unfair. They have been given, by executive decree, permission to remain in the United States. Meanwhile, you have millions of people wanting to come in legally, and they're being denied that.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Are you open to the arguments of employers, though, that say the U.S. economy already has many jobs that remain unfilled? I've personally talked to employers who have trouble finding workers. Many economists say you'd have trouble replacing the workforce if employers dismissed DACA workers.

KOBACH: Well, let's remember, the DACA amnesty recipients are not a special category of skilled individuals. They're just basically a cross-section of the illegal alien population in the United States. So you've got some who may have a college degree. You've got others who don't and may even be involved in criminal activity. There have been many cases of DACA recipients who've been involved in criminal activity...

GARCIA-NAVARRO: A vast minority, though. And we're talking about health care, hospitality, agriculture, construction. They would face significant job losses.

KOBACH: Well, the employers in the various industries at that point can either look for aliens who are legally in the United States or, even better, they can look for U.S. citizens who are in the United States. There is a massive number - although unemployment is shrinking to, you know, great low numbers, the underemployment rate is the real story here. And that is that we have a huge number of people who are not in the workforce right now because the jobs are not paying enough. For whatever reason, they don't want to come off welfare. Or they don't want to get back in the workforce.

When you have a large number of illegal and, in some cases, legal aliens in an industry, that depresses wages. And that's why wages have been stagnant in this country for three decades is that we have had this massive influx of labor legal and illegal, but, in particular, the illegal labor, which has depressed wages.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That was Kansas Secretary Of State Kris Kobach. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.