Kamala Harris

Kamala Harris Can't Stop Promising To Do Things Via Executive Order

At the second Democratic debate, the presidential hopeful showed her affinity for executive action.


Executive orders on executive orders! If Sen. Kamala Harris (D–Calif.) becomes president, expect a lot of them.

Near the start of the second Democratic primary debate, the presidential hopeful said she would usurp executive authority to reinstate protections for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which shields undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children from deportation.

"I will immediately, by executive action, reinstate DACA status and DACA protection to those young people," she said. "I will further extend protection for deferral of deportation for their parents and for veterans…. I will also immediately put in place a meaningful process for reviewing the cases for asylum and release children from cages and get rid of the private detention centers."

President Donald Trump successfully weaponized this issue because his predecessor, President Barack Obama, implemented DACA via executive action—a sobering reminder of the flimsy nature of such directives, which can be overturned when a new commander in chief enters the Oval Office.

Harris also threatened to use executive action to curb gun use if Congress does not act within the first 100 days of her presidency. An executive order would be put in place to establish a "comprehensive background check policy," she said, and she would also require the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives "to take the licenses of gun dealers who violate the law." Another executive order would ban imports on assault weapons, she said. Such measures have failed to pass Congress for years.

Harris' rhetoric on Thursday night matches her past statements expressing support for executive action on both guns and immigration.

But she did change her position (once again) on whether she would abolish private health insurers by implementing Medicare for All. In a January CNN town hall, Harris said she supported the measure, then walked those comments back almost immediately after. Tonight, though, she was in favor again—one of two candidates to raise their hands when asked by moderators if they would eradicate all private insurance companies.