San Antonio Express-News: Trump administration rejects all new DACA applications
WASHINGTON — The Trump administration announced Tuesday it is rejecting all new applications from would-be Dreamers as it considers trying again to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, just weeks after the Supreme Court blocked Trump’s last attempt to kill it.
Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad F. Wolf said the administration is working to “thoughtfully consider the future of the DACA policy, including whether to fully rescind the program.”
Officials said the “comprehensive review” will take time, but would not say how long — leaving it unclear whether the administration would take more steps to end the program ahead of the November elections.
In the meantime, DHS will reject all new DACA applications and will only grant renewals for one year, as opposed to the usual two.
President Donald Trump’s new rules come less than two weeks after a federal judge in Maryland ordered the administration to begin accepting new DACA applications because of the Supreme Court decision. And it comes as dozens of Houston-area immigrants are suing to force the White House to take their applications.
They vowed to keep pressing in the courts, despite the administration’s announcement.
“This move is utterly irrational because there is a court order in place that mandates the program to be open,” said Cesar Espinosa, executive director of FIEL, an immigrant-run advocacy group in Houston that is leading the lawsuit. “We will fight this in the courts. We have not given up. We will not give up. We will keep fighting. "
The DACA program protects from deportation people brought as children to the U.S. by their families without legal authorization. Many of the so-called Dreamers have known no other home than the U.S.
By at least one estimate, some 86,000 Texans are eligible for the program, in addition to the 106,000 Dreamers in Texas who have already enrolled. The backlog has grown over the past four years, as more of the children have graduated from high school but were not allowed to apply.
While the Trump administration conducts its review, it is renewing its call for Congress to take up the program’s future. In the past, DACA has been wrapped into broader immigration battles, including being tied to funding for Trump’s border wall.
“As the Department continues looking at the policy and considers future action, the fact remains that Congress should act on this matter,” Wolf said in a statement. “There are important policy reasons that may warrant the full rescission of the DACA policy.”
Democrats condemned the move.
“Trump, so desperate to be seen as a ‘law and order’ president, should finally follow the law and stop defying the court’s clear orders,” said U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett of San Antonio. “His continued, cruel attack on tens of thousands of young Texans eligible for DACA harms us all.”
In recent weeks, Trump has said repeatedly that he’s gearing up to issue a “very major” immigration order of his own, claiming the Supreme Court’s ruling that blocked him from ending DACA last month also gives him the power to try again. Trump said during a “Fox News Sunday” interview this month that he would replace DACA with “something much better.”
Nationally, more than 640,000 immigrants are protected by the program. The Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington, D.C., estimates as many as 682,000 more could qualify.
The Supreme Court last month blocked Trump’s 2017 order to end the popular program, which was created by former President Barack Obama. The Trump administration had called Obama’s executive order arbitrary and capricious, alleging that it violated the Administrative Procedure Act.
The high court’s ruling kicked off a round of calls for Congress to protect Dreamers, a group seen as sympathetic by both Democrats and Republicans. U.S. Sen. John Cornyn said in a speech on the Senate floor the day of the ruling that it “has thrust upon us a unique moment and an opportunity.”
Congress, however, has done little since.
The Democratic-led U.S. House last year passed a bill that would offer the Dreamers a path to citizenship. But when Senate Democrats attempted to bring it up for a vote earlier this month, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz blocked it, calling it an attempt at offering “amnesty” to those who entered the country illegally.