Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced on Tuesday that the Trump Administration will be ending Barack Obama’s DACA program within 6 months because it is “unconstitutional” and a “unilateral Executive amnesty.
He is urging congress to come up with a legislative solution for young illegal immigrants.
The Administration is rescinding the unconstitutional order by phasing it out over a six-month period, saying this gives the DREAMERs a grace period while also giving Congress a chance to come up with a permanent legislative fix to a very sensitize and polarizing issue.
“It’s up to Congress to pass legislation extending the policy it sees fit,” said a DOJ official.
“We are people of compassion and we are people of law. But there is nothing compassionate about the failure to enforce Immigration Laws,” said AG Jeff Sessions.
During the televised announcement, AG Sessions castigated the previous administration particularly Barack Obama for showing blatant disrespect for the Legislative process when he went around congress to put DACA in place.
“The Executive Branch, through DACA, deliberately sought to achieve what the Legislative Branch specifically refused to authorize on multiple occasions,” he said of Obama.
“Such an open-ended circumvention of Immigration Laws was an unconstitutional exercise of authority by the Executive Branch.”
He then pointed out that, “To have a lawful system of immigration that serves the national interest, we cannot admit everyone who wants to come here. It’s just not possible,” said AG Sessions.
Sessions then gave a legal argument indicating that DACA would be slapped down in court if it sustained any legal challenge. A similar Obama policy, DAPA, which aimed protect parents of illegal immigrants (DREAMERS) was shut down in court earlier this summer.
“If we are to further our goal of strengthening the Constitutional Order and the Rule of Law in America, the Department of Justice cannot defend this type of overreach,” said AG Session of Obama.
President Trump waited for almost an hour after his Attorney General made the announcement to release a statement on the decision to rescind DACA.
“I do not favour punishing children most of whom are now adults, for the actions of their parents. But we must also recognize that we are a nation of opportunity because we are a nation of laws,” read his Trump’s statement.
The President then pointed out that new DACA applications will no longer be accepted and those whose applications had already been submitted would have those requests honoured.
He also indicated that those who DACA papers are about to expire, they will have their statuses renewed if they applied within the specified timeframe.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program which was announced in 2012 by Barack Obama grants protection to roughly 800,000 young illegal immigrants known as DREAMERs from deportation. It also offers work permits which then entitle them to obtain Social Security Numbers, Driver’s Licenses and Tax Benefits.
In some states, DACA earns these illegals in-state tuition including financial aid at public academic institutions. The permits can be renewed and so far, it has come under intense scrutiny because of abuse, with renewals of up to three times per individual by more than tens of thousands of DREAMERS.
There are currently an estimated 11million illegal immigrants believed to be living in the U.S.
The Attorney General argued that there is “nothing compassionate” about not enforcing current immigration laws, blaming DACA for being the incentive which has given rise to unaccompanied minors coming into the country illegally.
“To have a lawful system of immigration that serves the national interest, we cannot admit everyone who wants to come here. It’s just not possible,” said AG Sessions.
President Trump supported those sentiments saying, “We will resolve the DACA issue with heart and compassion – but through the lawful democratic process – while at the same time ensuring that any immigration reform we adopt provides enduring benefits for the American citizens we were elected to serve.”
He then threw the ball to the Congress saying, “Congress now has the opportunity to advance responsible immigration reform that puts American jobs and American security first.”
So far, some lawmakers within the GOP are standing with the President on this decision, with House Speaker Paul Ryan arguing in his statement that the Obama policy “was a clear abuse of Executive Authority.”
“Congress writes laws, not the President, and ending this program fulfills a promise that President Trump made to restore the proper role of the Executive and Legislative branches,” Paul Ryan stated.
Elaine Duke, Acting DHS Secretary in a memo said the Administration did not take the decision lightly, adding that,
“I am very aware of the consequences of this action and I sympathize with the DACA recipients whose futures may now be less certain. But I am also frustrated on their behalf,” she said.
“DACA was never more than parole – a bureaucratic delay – never promised the rights of citizenship or legal status in this country,” she concluded.
The decision to rescind DACA is a huge black eye to proponents of illegal immigration and immigration rights advocates. There is fear that cancellation of the program will cause chaos and sow fear among immigrant communities, something refuted by the department.
However, the Justice Department (DOJ) portrayed the decision as the lesser of two evils, saying that the program’s legality was so tenuous that a judge could have ended the unconstitutional program instantly, throwing hundreds of thousands of Dreamers into immediate chaos.
Homeland Security officials insist that this decision and the eventual end of DACA does not mean immediate deportations of DREAMERS, who are not a top priority for Immigration Agents. ICE is currently going after criminals and those defying Deportation Orders, which does not include DACA recipients.
“Very little has changed for our enforcement posture,” the official said, though he indicates that the current law calls for illegal immigrants to be deported. Until that law is changed legislatively, anyone without authorization to be in the country could be kicked out.
While the decision was being made at the Justice Department, immigration advocates and proponents of illegal immigration were already galvanizing marches outside the White House, in New York City outside Trump Tower and other major cities throughout the country.
A senior Homeland Security official speaking to reporters said that the department will no longer be accepting new DACA Applications. They will only process those that have already been submitted.
However, moving forward, the official said only those whose status will expire by March 5 will have their applications processed, and they must be submitted by October 5. This will set up a scramble for renewals due to this announcement.
Officials said more than 201,000 illegal immigrants will have their DACA status expire by December 2017 while 55,258 of those have requests pending for renewal. Another 275,344 illegal immigrants will have their DACA status expire in 2018 and of those, only 7,271 have filed requests for renewal.
Official figures reveal that of the 321,920 illegals with DACA status expiring in 2019, only 8 having filed for renewal.
Officials also said they will stop granting a shortcut Pathway to Citizenship to DREAMERS through “Advance Parole” – a DACA loophole that has come under scrutiny. Under advance parole, DREAMERS could get permission to leave and reenter the United States and upon re-entry, they could apply for permanent legal status, as long as they had another qualifying relationship.
According to statistics released by the government last week, tens of thousands of DACA recipients have already applied for the Advance Parole loophole, and several thousands more said to already granted pathway to citizenship.
With this announcement, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is expected to now cancel all pending requests for Advance Parole by DREAMERS and refund all the funds submitted for those applications.
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