Trump administration to reject new DACA applications during 'comprehensive' review

The White House's decision comes shortly after the Supreme Court ruled that the president's effort to end the DACA program was unconstitutional.
Image: US-POLITICS-IMMIGRATION-COURT
People hold signs during a rally in support of the Supreme Court's ruling in favor of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in San Diego on June 18.Sandy Huffaker / AFP - Getty Images file

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By Lauren Egan and Shannon Pettypiece

WASHINGTON — The White House announced Tuesday that it will take steps to wind down legal protections for hundreds of thousands of immigrants brought into the country as children, often called "Dreamers," while it conducts a legal review after the Supreme Court rejected President Donald Trump's plan to end the program known as DACA.

A senior administration official said that despite the Supreme Court ruling, the White House still viewed the program, formally called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, as illegal and that the court ruling left room for it to pursue other ways to end the program. The Trump administration would "limit the scope" of DACA while the administration reviews its legality, the official said.

The administration announced that while the program is under review, it will reject initial requests and application fees for new filings, consider all applications for renewal on a case-by-case basis but limit renewals to one year rather than two, and reject all applications for advance parole unless there are "extraordinary circumstances."

Trump tried to end DACA in September 2017, making good on a campaign promise.

The Supreme Court ruled in June that the administration could not carry out its plan because it failed to give adequate justification. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in his opinion that it was not unconstitutional for the Trump administration to terminate DACA, but he wrote that the administration would have to give a more detailed reason.

Trump was furious, tweeting that the decision was "politically charged" and saying new justices were needed. He vowed to try again to end DACA.

The administration has already taken steps to slow the program. Last week, the government said in a hearing in U.S. District Court in Maryland that it has not "granted nor rejected" DACA applications; rather, it said, it has put the program "on hold."

The Maryland federal court ordered the administration to restore DACA to its original form before Trump tried to end it in a 2017 memo, essentially ordering the Department of Homeland Security to accept new DACA applications.

The administration is getting around the court order by issuing a new memo that supersedes all previous DACA memos, the administration official said Tuesday. The White House expects to face more court challenges over its latest changes.

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolfe is expected to issue the memo later Tuesday laying out the details.

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At a press conference Tuesday afternoon Trump said that the Supreme Court ruling on DACA gave him "more power," although it is unclear how he reached that interpretation as the decision did not extend him any additional executive powers.

“That decision was an interesting decision because it gave the president, as a president, more power than many people thought the president had," Trump said, adding that he still planned to work on an immigration bill.

"We are going to make DACA happy and the DACA people and representatives happy, and we’re also going to end up with a fantastic merit-based immigration system," Trump said.

President Barack Obama created DACA in 2012 as a stopgap measure to shield from deportation people who were brought into the U.S. as children and did not have citizenship or legal residence status. The protection lasts for two years at a time, and it can be renewed. DACA does not provide a pathway to citizenship.

Figures show that more than 90 percent of DACA participants have jobs. Nearly half are in school. Many do not speak the languages or know the cultures of their home countries.

"President Trump will stop at nothing to push his anti-immigrant political agenda, even at the expense of young people who have grown up in this country and are Americans through and through," former Vice President Joe Biden said in a statement on Tuesday.

"Trump’s actions would upend the lives of hundreds of thousands of our neighbors, teachers, nurses, doctors, engineers and lawyers, among others," the presumptive Democratic nominee said. "It’s wrong, and it’s un-American. The America I know fights for our own and that’s exactly who DACA recipients are — our own."