Trump Says Some DACA Recipients Are ‘Hardened Criminals’ Ahead of Supreme Court Ruling

November 12, 2019 Updated: November 12, 2019

President Donald Trump said that some recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) amnesty are “hardened criminals” as the Supreme Court heard arguments in case Trump’s administration has made to try to get rid of the program.

“Many of the people in DACA, no longer very young, are far from ‘angels.’ Some are very tough, hardened criminals,” Trump said in a statement early Nov. 12.

According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, almost eight percent of total DACA requestors, or nearly 60,000 people, had arrest records.

Trump added in his statement: “President Obama said he had no legal right to sign order, but would anyway. If Supreme Court remedies with overturn, a deal will be made with Dems for them to stay!”

Former President Barack Obama said in October 2010 that he couldn’t implement immigration reforms by himself, saying: “I am not king. I can’t do these things just by myself.”

The next year, he said that with “respect to the notion that I can just suspend deportations through executive order, that’s just not the case.”

“There are enough laws on the books by Congress that are very clear in terms of how we have to enforce our immigration system that for me to simply through executive order ignore those congressional mandates would not conform with my appropriate role as President,” he said.

In May 2011, he said: “Sometimes when I talk to immigration advocates, they wish I could just bypass Congress and change the law myself. But that’s not how a democracy works.”

He issued DACA as an executive order in 2012, requiring no approval from Congress. The program currently protects about 660,000 immigrants from being deported and lets them legally work.

Three appeals courts have said Trump wasn’t allowed to end the program. The Supreme Court is hearing arguments on the case and is expected to rule soon.

Courts struck down another executive action Obama issued, the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents program, or DAPA. That order gave amnesty to illegal aliens who entered the United States as adults.

President Barack Obama speaks about immigration reform during a meeting with young immigrants shielded by his DACA executive order, on Feb. 4, 2015. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld (pdf) a nationwide injunction against the order and the Supreme Court allowed the injunction to stand. Some legal observers believe the similarities between DAPA and DACA will lead to the Supreme Court ruling against DACA.

The Trump administration has criticized DACA repeatedly and then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced on Sept. 5, 2017, that the program was being rescinded, prompting the legal battle that’s now culminating.

“This policy was implemented unilaterally to great controversy and legal concern after Congress rejected legislative proposals to extend similar benefits on numerous occasions to this same group of illegal aliens. In other words, the executive branch, through DACA, deliberately sought to achieve what the legislative branch specifically refused to authorize on multiple occasions. Such an open-ended circumvention of immigration laws was an unconstitutional exercise of authority by the Executive Branch,” Sessions said.

He said that DACA “contributed to a surge of unaccompanied minors on the southern border that yielded terrible humanitarian consequences” and “denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans by allowing those same jobs to go to illegal aliens.”

Trump said in a statement about the decision that legislation offering the same benefits DACA gave had been rejected by Congress on numerous occasions.

“There can be no path to principled immigration reform if the executive branch is able to rewrite or nullify federal laws at will. The temporary implementation of DACA by the Obama Administration, after Congress repeatedly rejected this amnesty-first approach, also helped spur a humanitarian crisis—the massive surge of unaccompanied minors from Central America including, in some cases, young people who would become members of violent gangs throughout our country, such as MS-13,” he said.

“Only by the reliable enforcement of immigration law can we produce safe communities, a robust middle class, and economic fairness for all Americans. Therefore, in the best interests of our country, and in keeping with the obligations of my office, the Department of Homeland Security will begin an orderly transition and wind-down of DACA, one that provides minimum disruption.”

Trump said he wasn’t “going to just cut DACA off, but rather provide a window of opportunity for Congress to finally act.”

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber
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