The Trump administration recently asked the United States Supreme Court to allow it to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The President’s request, which comes at the heels of the congressional elections in which his signature anti-immigration rhetoric was a central topic, urged the justices to junk three lower court rulings that have put his campaign to end the Obama-era immigration program in limbo.
DACA protects undocumented immigrants that first entered the United States as minors from immediate deportation. Through the program, beneficiaries, known as “DREAMers”—after a failed immigration bill with the same provisions—may stay in the country for an indefinite period of time and seek legal employment through temporary and renewable work permits. DACA, however, does not offer a path to citizenship for its over 700,000 mostly-Hispanic beneficiaries.
In the court filing, Solicitor General Noel Francisco asserted that the Obama administration introduced the policy “even though existing laws provided them no ability to do so.” According to him, this justifies the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) proposal to rescind the program.
“It is plainly within DHS’s authority to set the nation’s immigration enforcement priorities and to end the discretionary DACA policy,” Francisco asserted.
President Trump claims that former President Obama had overstepped his constitutional powers when he established DACA through an executive order instead of going through Congress, which, as Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton puts it, “rewrote federal law over the objections of Congress.”
Pursuant to this argument, Texas and a coalition of Republican-controlled states filed a suit against the federal government, demanding DACA’s termination. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton argued that DACA represents a dangerous view of executive power, allowing the president to unilaterally set aside any duly enacted law.
“It cannot be allowed to stand without doing serious harm to our Constitution,” he said.
Immigration was once again at the forefront of the political conversation surrounding the Republican push for House seats. Trump’s allies have used the country’s supposed immigration woes to galvanize the party’s conservative base. Whether or not this works remains to be seen.
The administration is also fighting three separate district court rulings made by judges in California, New York and the District of Columbia, all of whom ordered the federal government to continue processing renewal applications by existing DACA beneficiaries while the legality of DACA and Trump’s challenge is still being resolved.
The Supreme Court is currently composed of a 5-4 conservative majority. Should it agree to hear the case, the consequent ruling is expected to come by June 2019.
If you, or a loved one, are a DACA beneficiary and want to discuss your legal options should the worst happen, don’t hesitate to schedule a consultation with the legal team of the Lyttle Law Firm. Contact our offices at (512) 215-5225 to schedule a consultation with Austin immigration attorney Daniella Lyttle.