Top DHS official: Trump instructed agency to ‘restart the DACA process’
Ken Cuccinelli, the acting deputy secretary of Homeland Security, said Friday that President Trump ordered the agency to “restart the DACA process” after the Supreme Court’s decision against Trump’s order to end the program.
Cuccinelli said in a tweet that the review process would be undertaken “in accordance with #scotus’s ruling.”
The Thursday ruling, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, shot down Trump’s 2017 order ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program as “arbitrary and capricious,” and for not considering the effects such a drastic policy change would have on beneficiaries.
“The administration retains the authority to rescind the program, they just have to be much more deliberate and meet certain steps in order to do so,” said Jorge Loweree, policy director at the American Immigration Council.
“To do this they would have to lay out a clear justification to do so, which goes beyond just saying the program is illegal,” added Loweree.
Cuccinelli said in an interview on Fox Business on Friday that the administration is prepared to draft a new order, with the intention of forcing Congress to act on immigration.
“This morning [Trump] gave us the instruction at the Department of Homeland Security to redo the guidelines to wind down DACA and that is intended, and will have the practical effect, of forcing this into Congress’s hands, where it always belonged in the first place,” said Cuccinelli.
The Trump administration has consistently used DACA as a cudgel to try to force Democrats in Congress to accept immigration enforcement measures like border wall construction.
In early 2019, White House officials torpedoed a budding bipartisan agreement on the matter between Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) because it did not include border wall funding.
Both the wall and termination of DACA, an Obama-era program that protects more than 700,000 undocumented immigrants from deportation, featured heavily in Trump’s campaign.
Trump in a tweet Friday blamed Democrats for a lack of congressional action on DACA.
“I have wanted to take care of DACA recipients better than the Do Nothing Democrats, but for two years they refused to negotiate – They have abandoned DACA. Based on the decision the Dems can’t make DACA citizens. They gained nothing!” wrote Trump.
Cuccinelli echoed Trump’s remarks, emphasizing that although DACA has been in place for eight years, its recipients are still technically undocumented immigrants.
“The fact there is that they are here illegally and the president was willing to discuss some resolution to this. But his political opponents were more interested in trying to, hoping that the president would fail on this because of just polling, rather than solve this problem,” Cuccinelli told Fox Business.
But Loweree said the administration’s reaction to the Supreme Court ruling amounts to a political distraction amid the coronavirus pandemic and debate over racism in the country.
“Both Cuccinelli and the president have been playing games with the lives of hundreds of thousands of immigrant youth who want nothing more than a fair shot at the American dream,” said Loweree.
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