A DREAM Deferred: DACA Canceled, Time for Congress to Act

Today the Trump Administration announced the cancellation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, via Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a noted opponent of the program. Make no mistake—this was not the Administration’s only option. The Administration could’ve worked with Congress to get a law passed, without adding so much fear into the lives of immigrant families.

The AG issued a memorandum which describes the litigation history related to the program, and which concludes that the DACA program “was effectuated by the previous administration through executive action, without proper statutory authority and with no established end-date, after Congress’ repeated rejection of proposed legislation that would have accomplished a similar result.”

The threat of legal challenge by 10 states spurred action by the Administration, and highlights once again the divide among the States that confronts the U.S. on this and other issues.

The ACLU and many other immigrant rights groups have unsurprisingly come out in opposition to this action. The ACLU has said the Administration has turned the Dreamers into pawns in the immigration reform debate. Former President Obama even came out publicly against the measure, describing it as “cruel” and “self-defeating.”

While the program was never meant to be permanent, now the pressure is placed squarely on Congress to “get the job done.” This is worrisome, as the debate has already begun to shift from focusing on the Dreamers as persons, to cutting deals concerning other issues, such as border wall financing. I can remember visiting my Representative’s office in 2001–yes, over 16 years ago, advocating for Congress to pass a bill for the DREAMers.

These politics miss so much—the innocence of persons brought here by their parents, the investment America has made in these young people, the potential harm to employers and families, the trust of a community already in fear. I have great faith in the advocacy of the DREAMers–rarely have I seen such an effective interest group. Hopefully Congress will act. Hopefully…

Here’s how the Administration has said it will handle applications going forward:

  • Will adjudicate—on an individual, case-by-case basis—properly filed pending DACA initial requests and associated applications for Employment Authorization Documents that have been accepted by the Department as of the date of this memorandum.
  • Will reject all DACA initial requests and associated applications for Employment Authorization Documents filed after the date of this memorandum.
  • Will adjudicate—on an individual, case by case basis—properly filed pending DACA renewal requests and associated applications for Employment Authorization Documents from current beneficiaries that have been accepted by the Department as of the date of this memorandum, and from current beneficiaries whose benefits will expire between the date of this memorandum and March 5, 2018 that have been accepted by the Department as of October 5, 2017.
  • Will reject all DACA renewal requests and associated applications for Employment Authorization Documents filed outside of the parameters specified above.
  • Will not terminate the grants of previously issued deferred action or revoke Employment Authorization Documents solely based on the directives in this memorandum for the remaining duration of their validity periods.
  • Will not approve any new Form I-131 applications for advance parole under standards associated with the DACA program, although it will generally honor the stated validity period for previously approved applications for advance parole. Notwithstanding the continued validity of advance parole approvals previously granted, CBP will—of course—retain the authority it has always had and exercised in determining the admissibility of any person presenting at the border and the eligibility of such persons for parole. Further, USCIS will—of course—retain the authority to revoke or terminate an advance parole document at any time.
  • Will administratively close all pending Form I-131 applications for advance parole filed under standards associated with the DACA program, and will refund all associated fees.
  • Will continue to exercise its discretionary authority to terminate or deny deferred action at any time when immigration officials determine termination or denial of deferred action is appropriate.

 

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