Homeland Security says DACA is doomed

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly told the Congressional Hispanic Caucus on Wednesday that the Trump administration has not committed to defending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in court.

The policy, instituted through an Obama executive order in 2012, grants deportation relief to noncitizen immigrants brought to the U.S. by their parents. Per the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service’s last count in March, over 800,000 people currently reside in the U.S. under this protection. They are commonly referred to as DREAMers.

DACA’s fate was called into question when Donald Trump took office. 45 pledged during his campaign to eliminate the program, although he flashed glimpses of humanity shortly after inauguration, telling DREAMers that “they shouldn’t be very worried” and that the White House is “going to take care of everybody.” The DHS qualified these statements in June, though, by saying the program’s future “continues to be under review.”

The issue is coming to a head after attorneys general from ten Republican-majority states recently wrote a letter to Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III threatening to sue the administration over DACA. The letter asked the administration to stop accepting new applications and renewing existing enrollees. Hispanic lawmakers sought assurance from Kelly on Wednesday that Homeland Security would help defend the program, but Kelly said he can’t guarantee it and that immigration lawyers have told him the policy won’t survive a court challenge.

“Most of them felt that DACA, as it exists, is not legally sustainable,” David Lapan, a department spokesperson, said.

“I think we have to prepare for the worst and get ready to fight mass deportation,” Rep. Luis Gutiérrez said in a statement following Wednesday’s meeting. “We showed up at airports to fight the Muslim and Refugee Ban and now DREAMers and people who have lived here legally for decades with TPS are in imminent danger.”

“[Kelly] said the same dumb line, ‘Well, Congress should do something about it,’” Representative Ruben Gallego said after the meeting. “Well, obviously we want to do something about it.”

“Upon questioning, Sec. Kelly made it clear he does not understand how his agency works or how the Congress works,” Gutiérrez also said in his own statement.

Congress has introduced two bills this session that seek to facilitate a more sustainable legal pathway for DREAMers. Caucus members brought this fact up in the meeting but got the impression that Kelly wasn’t aware.

“I mentioned the Bridge Act specifically,” Representative Nanette Diaz Barragán said, “and it almost sounded like he didn’t even know what that was.”

[Politico | photo: Getty]

Tags: daca, dreamers