Undocumented immigrants will be able to temporarily continue their enrollment in the DACA program—and in an ironic twist, they may have the president’s tweets to thank for the decision.
On Tuesday, a federal judge in California issued an injunction to the Trump administration’s September decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, a 2012 executive order issued by President Barack Obama which allowed undocumented immigrants who were brought over as children to work legally in the U.S.
According to the New York Times, Judge William Alsup of Federal District Court in San Francisco wrote that the Trump administration’s decision to end DACA was “improper” and that President Donald Trump must “maintain the DACA program on a nationwide basis” while the decision continues to be legally challenged.
More specifically, Alsup ordered that DACA recipients be allowed to renew their status in the program. The order, however, does not require this allowance to be extended to qualifying undocumented immigrants who haven’t previously applied for DACA, and also stipulated that the Trump administration could continue to prevent DACA recipients from returning to U.S. if they are to leave. About 800,000 undocumented immigrants face deportation when the program ends on March 5.
While Trump previously cited the ending of DACA by saying that Obama’s executive action was unconstitutional, even going so far to erroneously say on Tuesday that Obama once said he didn’t “have the right” to do so himself, Alsup disagreed. In his decision, Alsup argued that the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security has long had the power to grant temporary protections, DACA’s primary function.
Alsup also supported his decision, in part, with tweets from Trump himself that showed support and sympathy for Dreamers, the young adults in the DACA program, and DACA itself. Tweets such as, “Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military? Really!” Alsup argued, supported the importance of and public’s interest in the program.
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
Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military? Really!.....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 14, 2017
The injunction could be short-lived if the administration were to appeal the ruling. However, if DACA were to be appealed all the way to the Supreme Court, a final decision on the program could take weeks or longer.
And while the decision appears to be a win for DACA recipients and advocates for Dreamers, Camille Mackler, the director of immigration legal policy at the New York Immigration Coalition, told the Times that DACA’s continuation may undermine the efforts of passing a clean Dream Act. A “clean” piece of legislation would legalize young immigrants without passing immigration concessions pushed by Republicans, such as ending a State Department visa lottery that prioritizes African and other countries, and the ending of immigrant sponsorship of extended family members to come to the U.S.
On Wednesday, the Trump administration responded to the decision by calling it outrageous and reasserting that DACA must go through the legislative process, according to ABC News.
“We find this decision to be outrageous, especially in light of the President’s successful bipartisan meeting with House and Senate members at the White House on the same day,” the statement read. “An issue of this magnitude must go through the normal legislative process. President Trump is committed to the rule of law, and will work with members of both parties to reach a permanent solution that corrects the unconstitutional actions taken by the last administration.”
Update 9:05am CT, Jan. 10: Also on Tuesday, President Trump met with lawmakers to discuss immigration and the DREAM Act, but when the White House released the transcript of the meeting, it failed to include a key line: that Trump supported a clean act for Dreamers.
In regards to a question by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) if he would support “a clean DACA bill,” Trump replied, “Yeah, I would like to do it,” according to the Washington Post. The official transcript did not include this line.
A White House spokesperson told the Post that the omission was not intentional and that the context of the conversation was clear.