The Trump administration is ending the Obama-era DACA program in its current form, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced today.
The ball is now in Congress’ court to come up with legislation to address the issue before DACA officially ends six months down the road on March 5.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program created by a 2012 Obama executive order postponed deportation for approximately 800,000 undocumented immigrants who entered the U.S. before age 16 and prior to June 2007 and granted them work permits renewable on a two-year basis. Most of the so-called Dreamers are now said to be in the mid-20s age range. As of today, the federal government will no longer process any DACA applications.
The Dreamer terminology evolved from the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act that never passed Congress and which prompted ex-President Obama to invoke an executive action. The attorneys general of 10 states were set to sue the administration over DACA, and Trump administration officials believe the policy would not survive a legal challenge. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit previously ruled that DACA was inconsistent with the separation of powers.
Article 1, Section 8, of the U.S. Constitution gives Congress and not the executive branch the power to establish rules for immigration.
Ending the politically charged DACA policy was one of President Trump’s campaign promises in connection with controlling illegal immigration. Virtually all Democrats and many Republicans, as well as the social justice cohort, maintain that the DACA program should continue, and today’s decision, which was expected, will obviously ignite yet another controversy swirling about the Trump White House.
In his remarks today, Jeff Sessions claimed that the Obama administration unconstitutionally circumvented Congress by implementing a form of executive amnesty. Among other things, he added that DACA created a humanitarian crisis at the southern border with unaccompanied minors flooding across, as well as preventing U.S. citizens from getting jobs that went to undocumented individuals, Politico reported.
In his press conference, the former Alabama senator went on to say, in part, the following.
“…To have a lawful system of immigration that serves the national interest, we cannot admit everyone who would like to come here. That is an open border policy and the American people have rightly rejected it. Therefore, the nation must set and enforce a limit on how many immigrants we admit each year and that means all can not be accepted…We are a people of compassion and we are a people of law. But there is nothing compassionate about the failure to enforce immigration laws. Enforcing the law saves lives, protects communities and taxpayers, and prevents human suffering. Failure to enforce the laws in the past has put our nation at risk of crime, violence and even terrorism….”
Watch Sessions’ entire presentation and draw your own conclusions.
There have also been allegations of fraud in the DACA application process, the Washington Times suggested in 2013.
According to Elaine Duke, the acting Homeland Security Secretary, the Trump administration carefully considered all of its options before concluding that DACA poses a conflict with immigration law already on the books, NPR reported. In choosing what it considered the least-disruptive path forward, Duke explained that letting the program wind down over the six-month period allows Congress to change the law for the benefit of Dreamers through what would amount to a new version of the DREAM Act in some form.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, who described DACA a “clear abuse of executive authority” by Obama, has already announced that he hopes Congress can reach a consensus on a permanent legislative solution to help those who came to American through no fault of their own, AP reported. Reflecting her caucus, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, however, deemed President Trump’s decision to rescind DACA “a deeply shameful act of political cowardice.”
Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which is concentrating on the apprehension and deportation of criminal illegal aliens pursuant to a Trump administration policy, indicated that former DACA beneficiaries with expired work permits would be a low priority for the agency.
As the phase-out of the DACA program by President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions is a fast-moving, developing story, watch this space for updates.
[Featured Image by Susan Walsh/AP Images]