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Trump Closes Door to New DACA Applicants in Defiance of Supreme Court Ruling

Protesters hold various signs and banners at a DACA rally in San Francisco.
Protesters hold various signs and banners at a DACA rally in San Francisco. Date: September 5, 2017. (Photo: Pax Ahimsa Gethen)

“It is unconscionable for the Trump administration to circumvent the rulings of a federal court in order to once again thrust into uncertainty the families and communities who rely on DACA to stay together and for protection from unjust deportations.”

The Trump administration announced it will close the door on new DACA applicants and limit the program length for current immigrants, The Associated Press reported Tuesday. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program has served as an opportunity for migrant children to form a life in the US without fear of deportation.

Another Attempt to Kill DACA

In June, the Supreme Court upheld the program, which President Donald Trump has tried to cancel since since taking office. DACA became a banner issue in Trump’s campaign against immigration. The program was created by his predecessor in 2012 and currently, 650,000 immigrants are shielded by it, Astrid Galvin wrote for The Associated Press.

Trump’s decision to close the door on new DACA applicants is part of broader review of the situation, NBC News reported. Trump spoke of his decision during a press conference Tuesday afternoon.

“[The Supreme Court] decision was an interesting decision because it gave the president, as a president, more power than many people thought the president had,” Trump said.

The court ruling did not grant the president more power that are not already afforded to the office. It did, however, establish that Trump can in fact end DACA, but Trump must provide a better justification for doing so.

‘Unconscionable’

Following the Supreme Court ruling, which Trump called “politically charged,” the US District Court for the District of Maryland ordered the Trump administration to resume accepting new applications. By issuing new guidelines to reject new applications, the White House is in defiance of the Supreme Court and the July 17 ruling in Maryland, NPR reported.

“It is unconscionable for the Trump administration to circumvent the rulings of a federal court in order to once again thrust into uncertainty the families and communities who rely on DACA to stay together and for protection from unjust deportations,” said Vanessa Esparza-Lopez, an attorney at the National Immigrant Justice Center in Chicago.

The Trump administration has argued DACA represents a national security threat and that the program was illegally created by former President Barack Obama. The president said he would work to create a new immigration law, but stopped short of offering particulars. Republicans and Democrats have tried to pass immigration reform legislation previously, but the two factions have failed to reach a compromise in regard to DACA and and enforcement measures, The Associated Press reported.

“We are going to make DACA happy and the DACA people and representatives happy, and we’re also going to end up with a fantastic merit-based immigration system,” Trump said.

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‘Serious Concerns’

For now, DACA proponents have to deal with the fact that the administration refuses to comply with court orders. A Department of Homeland Security memo dated July 28 spells out the policy change and cites the Supreme Court decision as empowering the DHS to make another attempt to close the door on new DACA applicants.

“On June 18, 2020, the US Supreme Court issued a decision that did not question the authority of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to rescind the DACA policy,” but that it did not follow proper guidelines, wrote Acting Homeland Secretary Chad Wolf in the memo. “Accordingly, the Court concluded that the recission [sic] must be vacated and remanded to DHS so that ‘it may consider the problem anew.’”

Wolf outlined several changes effective immediately, including the rejection of all first-time DACA applications and the limitation of renewals to one year.

“In accordance with the Supreme Court’s decision, I am determined to give careful consideration to whether the DACA policy should be maintained, rescinded, or modified,” Wolf wrote. “In the meantime, given my serious concerns about the policy, I have determined that some changes should immediately be made to the policy to limit its scope in the interim.”

Unexpected

Trump’s decision to close the door on new DACA applicants represents his latest attempt to curb immigration, both legal and illegal. In April, he used the COVID-19 pandemic as justification to temporarily suspend immigration. Although the Supreme Court ruled against Trump on DACA, it did not find the action unconditional. Furthermore, the Court upheld Trump’s ‘wealth tax’ for immigration in January.

Removing access to DACA, however, could play out differently because support for the program transcends party lines, Galvin wrote. Consequently, legal experts did not expect another attempt to end DACA before the election.

“With the presidential election just three months away, it’s clear the president will do everything possible to rally his supporters at the expense of Dreamers,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D–Cali.“They shouldn’t have to live under the constant fear that DACA protections will be ripped away at any moment.”

Immigration was a tentpole of Trump’s 2016 campaign as Trump called undocumented Mexicans “rapists” and “animals,” and tried to build a border wall at Mexico’s expense. Eventually, the administration transferred money from the military to fund segments of it.

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Daniel Davis

Daniel Davis is Managing Editor for The Osage County Herald-Chronicle in Kansas and also covers International news for Inside Over, a Milan-based global affairs publication. He graduated in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in political science. Outside of writing, he enjoys photography and one day hopes to return to video production. Learn more about him at his website danieldavis.la.

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