The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it would not eliminate protections for the recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) last Thursday. However, the memorandum does not give a long-term plan for the program and was published to announce the rescission of Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA).
DACA was established in 2012 by former-President Barak Obama’s administration to allow certain unauthorized immigrants who migrated to the US to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and eligibility for a work permit.
Despite President Trump’s promises throughout his election campaign to eliminate DACA immediately, a post on the DHS website states that “DACA recipients will continue to be eligible as outlined in the June 15, 2012 memorandum.” The provisions also outline that recipients who were issued three-year extensions will not be affected, and that they “will be eligible to seek a two-year extension upon their expiration.”
Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) released a statement following the DHS announcement in support of the protection of DACA recipients.
“I applaud yesterday’s announcement that will keep 750,000 undocumented Dreamers, who were brought to this country as children, safe from deportation,” he stated. “These young men and women know no other home than the United States, and ensuring that they may come out of the shadows to live their lives and attend work and school is simply common sense … These impressive young men and women contribute to our economy and our communities. They are our neighbors and our friends.”
However, DHS Secretary John Kelly wrote in a memorandum that he has decided to rescind the November 20, 2014 DAPA memorandum and its respective policies after consulting with the Attorney General.
DAPA, like DACA, grants deferred action “to certain aliens who have a ‘son or daughter who is a US citizen or lawful permanent resident,’” Kelly’s memorandum states. However, DAPA ultimately never took into effect due to the injunction by 26 states — led by a Texas — of the 2014 DAPA memorandum. DAPA’s policies were challenged by in the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas.
The DHS fact sheet cites the factors Kelly considered in making the decision to rescind DAPA.
“Secretary Kelly considered a number of factors, including the nationwide injunction of the DAPA memorandum, the ongoing litigation, the fact that DAPA never took effect, and our new immigration enforcement priorities,” the fact sheet states.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) was in support of the Trump administration’s move, stating that Obama’s move towards amnesty was an overreach in executive authority.
“Secretary Kelly made the right decision to end the Obama Administration’s unconstitutional executive amnesty program, which has already been struck down by the federal courts,” Goodlatte announced. “With his pen and phone, President Obama sought to rewrite our nation’s immigration laws on his own terms, ignoring the Constitution and the fact that it grants the power only to Congress to write our nation’s laws.”
However, ranking member of the House Committee on Homeland Security Bennie Thompson (D-MS) was critical of the administration’s repeal of DAPA, stating that targeting immigrant families is not where immigration law enforcement should be prioritized.
“The Administration rescinding the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans program is not only mean-spirited, but will force immigrants and their loved ones to live in more fear than they already face on a daily basis,” Thompson said. “This is yet another promise broken by President Trump. Rather than targeting contributing, law-abiding members of society, he should be prioritizing getting dangerous criminals off our streets.”
Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), the ranking Democrat on the House Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee and the founder and co-chair of the Congressional Women’s Working Group on Immigration Reform, echoed Thompson’s disappointment in the administration’s approach towards immigration law enforcement. She suggested that rather than being “so single-mindedly focused on the absolute enforcement of immigration law,” Congress and the administration need to pass more humane and comprehensive immigration reform.
“What we need are immigration laws and policies that protect our nation’s borders and at the same time honor our moral values and acknowledge the important contributions of immigrants to our country,” Roybal-Allard said in a statement. “That is why we need to pass fair and just bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform that treats immigrants humanely and keeps families together.”
DHS and White House officials said Friday morning that Thursday’s statements were “intended only to clarify that immigrants enrolled in the DACA program would not immediately be affected by a separate action officially ending” DAPA, The New York Times reported, further indicating that the memoranda was not intended to give an ultimate fate to DACA.
“There has been no final determination made about the DACA program, which the president has stressed needs to be handled with compassion and with heart,” Jonathan Hoffman, the assistant secretary for public affairs at the department, told The New York Times.