September 5, 2017; New York Times
Acting on his campaign pledge, President Trump on Tuesday, through a statement by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, ordered an end in six months to the Obama-era executive action that protects some 800,000 undocumented immigrants known as “Dreamers” from deportation. Trump urged Congress to replace the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program with legislation before March 5, 2018. “Congress, get ready to do your job – DACA!” the president tweeted Tuesday morning. And, late last night, he followed up with the following:
Congress now has 6 months to legalize DACA (something the Obama Administration was unable to do). If they can’t, I will revisit this issue!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 6, 2017
Mr. Trump said in his written statement, “I do not favor punishing children, most of whom are now adults, for the actions of their parents. But we must also recognize that we are nation of opportunity because we are a nation of laws.” The New York Times notes that, “In the statement, he notably did not endorse bipartisan legislation to codify the Dreamers’ protections.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions sent this letter to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), recommending an end to DACA. DHS announced on its website on Tuesday that no new requests for DACA will be accepted, that pending requests for DACA will be adjudicated, and that DACA renewal requests received by October 5, 2017 from current beneficiaries whose benefits will expire before March 5, 2018, will be adjudicated. All DACA benefits are provided on a two-year basis, so individuals who currently have DACA will be allowed to retain both DACA and their work authorizations (EADs) until they expire. But if Congress fails to make DACA law, undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children could face deportation to countries where most of them have never lived. The DHS Memorandum on Rescission Of DACA goes into much more detail.
A number of conservative publications, including the National Review, praised President Trump’s executive action. On June 29, 2017, 10 state attorneys general sent this letter to Mr. Sessions, threatening to mount a legal challenge unless the administration phased out the DACA program. However, the outcry was immediate and forceful. Protest marches blossomed in Philadelphia, in Washington D.C., at Trump Tower in New York City, in Denver, in Los Angeles, and elsewhere. Others are planning protests, such as in Kentucky and more in Los Angeles.
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According to the Migration Policy Institute, California is home to more than one in four DACA participants. The California attorney general, Xavier Becerra, and Governor Jerry Brown promised legal action to challenge the Trump administration’s decision. Becerra and 19 other state attorneys general penned this letter to Trump urging him to defend the DACA program, one month after Texas and the nine other states threatened to sue if it wasn’t ended. It is likely that Becerra will be able to recruit these same attorneys general in the months ahead to defend DACA participants, with more to come.
Apple objected. New York State Attorney General Schneiderman and Governor Cuomo threatened to sue. The president of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce resigned Tuesday from President Trump’s diversity coalition in protest.
The Constitution gives the president broad powers regarding immigration. With nearly 12 million undocumented people in the United States, Obama humanely put the Dreamers at the back of this impossibly long line for deportation. By rescinding DACA, Trump placed the DACA participants at the head of the line, since they dutifully disclosed all their and their parents’ personal information to qualify for the program. Punting the issue to Congress, and cowardly making Sessions serve as his mouthpiece, will not protect Trump from the moral outrage this decision has begun to ignite.
According to the Center for American Progress analysis of various studies, Trump’s decision will result in a loss of $460.3 billion from the national GDP over the next decade. Moreover, nearly eight in 10 voters support DACA, including three-quarters of Trump voters.
Trump’s moral authority consistently reaches new lows, to the point of cliché. The wake of Trump’s decision to rescind DACA, however, is about to splash shame and the nation’s condemnation on Congress, if Congress fails to act on behalf of the young people who only know America as home and received and believed in America’s promise of protection and support.
Former President Obama said in a statement on Facebook that Trump’s decision was “self-defeating” and “cruel.” Mr. Obama created the DACA program after Republicans in Congress repeatedly blocked passage of legislation to protect young, undocumented immigrants from deportation. Obama also said this in his Facebook statement:
It is precisely because this action is contrary to our spirit, and to common sense, that business leaders, faith leaders, economists, and Americans of all political stripes called on the administration not to do what it did today. And now that the White House has shifted its responsibility for these young people to Congress, it’s up to Members of Congress to protect these young people and our future. I’m heartened by those who’ve suggested that they should. And I join my voice with the majority of Americans who hope they step up and do it with a sense of moral urgency that matches the urgency these young people feel.