Despite Trump Claims,
Justice Department May Decide Fate of DACA
July 17, 2017
Trump said recently he, not the officials who work for him, would make a
final decision concerning the Obama-era executive order that protects
from deportation more than 750,000 children of undocumented immigrants.
But Trump may have limited powers when it comes to a decision to end the
Deferred Actions for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program if a case is
brought to the courts.
“When you take that fight to the court, it kind of takes it away from
him [Trump], and the Department of Justice is in charge of defending
DACA,” Denise McGettrick, a Texas attorney, told VOA.
In June, a group of 10 Republican state officials wrote a letter to
Trump, urging the administration to terminate DACA and threatening to
revive a lawsuit used to stop a 2014 executive order.
Such a move would put the case back in front of U.S. District Judge
Andrew Hanen for the Southern District of Texas. He presided over the
lawsuit United States v. Texas and blocked a program that would have
helped undocumented parents of Americans and young immigrants.
At this point, McGettrick said, Trump could decide to no longer defend
the order, which would validate remarks made by Homeland Security
Secretary John Kelly during a recent meeting with the Congressional
According to U.S. lawmakers present for the closed-door conversation,
Kelly was questioned about the continuation of the DACA program.
“We were surprised. … Seems like he’s getting ready to implement actions
against dreamers,” Congressman Adriano Espaillat of New York told VOA.
"Dreamers" is a nickname given to people who entered the United States
illegally as minors.
Espaillat said they “pushed really hard for dreamers” during the
meeting, adding that it seems to indicate “he will unleash very
Congressman Luis Gutierrez of Illinois said in a statement, “I think we
have to prepare for the worst and get ready to fight mass deportation.”
Kelly also told legislators that though he supports the program, he
believes it would not stand up in court if the states go through with
their legal challenge.
“Kelly was basically telling us DACA is facing a death sentence,”
Gutierrez said. “They actually want to take millions of people who are
documented — with our own government — make them undocumented, and then
go after them and their families.”
said that it would be up to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who is
known for being a hard-liner on legal and unauthorized immigration, to
make a decision on whether to defend DACA.
But Thursday, Trump said the decision about whether to challenge the
program “is a decision that I make and it’s a decision that’s very, very
hard to make.”
The president, while asserting his authority, did not commit to a yes or
a no. “There are two sides of a story,” he said. “It’s always tough.”
The 10 Republican states gave the administration a deadline for a
decision of September 5, the day members of Congress are expected to
return from August recess.