July 17, 2020; National Public Radio
Based on a petition from the Latinx advocacy group Casa de Maryland, the US District Court in Maryland ordered the White House to begin the process of accepting new applications for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which remains in limbo, despite the US Supreme Court’s ruling in June. Legal experts say the delay shows flagrant disregard for the Court’s decision to extend legal protections for undocumented youth.
Bill Ong Hing, professor of law and Director of the Immigration and Deportation Defense Clinic at the University of San Francisco, in an interview with NPR, expressed outrage and said there is no legal basis for the month-long delay in following the Court’s order.
“I’m very upset and disturbed that this is an example of politics reigning over law,” he said.
Unfortunately, the delay follows White House’s pattern of attacking judges or rulings that the Trump administration disagrees with. The Brennan Center for Justice has been keeping track of administration attacks on courts since 2017.
As of this writing, despite the federal ruling, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services website still says that it is renewing but not accepting new applications. There are an estimated 300,000 young DREAMers who are waiting to apply for DACA protections. For three years, since President Donald Trump first attempted to rescind DACA through an executive order, these young immigrants’ lives and those of their parents, protected under DAPA, been have placed on hold.
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United We Dream warned that a Supreme Court decision would place their members at greater risk of deportation; the House recently approved a bipartisan amendment to keep this exactly from happening and voice renewed support for Dreamers.
Obama’s executive order to launch DACA was never meant to be a permanent solution, making the DREAMers extremely vulnerable to the White House’s whims and third-party lawsuits. Congress has so far failed to approve proposed legislation that could provide these young immigrants with a secure path towards citizenship. As it stands today, DACA recipients have to renew their applications every two years and any new applicants prove that they have been living in the US for the last 13 years.
In an interview with Telemundo earlier this month, Trump declared he will be issuing “a big executive order” to address immigration, including a path towards citizenship for DACA recipients based on merit. A “merit-based” immigration plan would essentially create a point system based on high-skill workers and exceptional academic achievements and devalue keeping families together.
Advocates fear that such proposal would mimic previous attempts to curtail immigration from the Trump administration, including a 161-page proposed rule change to asylum regulations promulgated last month that would “burn down the American refugee protection system,” according to James Marks, a local union steward in the American Federation of Government Employees. (For more details, see also this public radio op-ed by Sarah Silverman-Stokes, assistant director of the Immigrants’ Rights & Human Trafficking Program at Boston University).
John Yoo, best known for drafting memos justifying torture under President George W. Bush, claims in a National Review article that the Court’s decision on DACA gives any president the power to issue immigration reform by executive order and force his successor to follow it, unless Congress takes action otherwise to issue a new law. Axios reported on Sunday that the article has been floating on Trump’s desk and share with his advisors; that the political move could essentially tie Joe Biden’s hands for at least a couple years, if elected, on immigration reform.
Given the administration’s past actions on immigration, it is highly unlikely that any new executive order will have the Dreamers’ and their families’ best interests at heart.—Sofia Jarrin-Thomas