Trump Administration Under Fire for Slow Action on DACA

Trump Administration Under Fire for Slow Action on DACA
DACA recipients and their supporters rally outside the Supreme Court in Washington on June 18, 2020. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Matthew Vadum

The Trump administration is facing legal pressure over its apparent failure to immediately resume processing of illegal aliens under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program after the Supreme Court ruled last month it failed to rescind the Obama-era program properly.

On June 18, the Supreme Court ruled 5–4 in Department of Homeland Security (DHS) v. Regents of the University of California that the Trump administration failed to follow the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), which requires the government to fully explain the reasons for its decisions, when it tried to rescind the program that temporarily shielded young people who came to the United States illegally from being deported.

“The dispute before the Court is not whether DHS may rescind DACA. All parties agree that it may. The dispute is instead primarily about the procedure the agency followed in doing so,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority.

“The appropriate recourse is therefore to remand to DHS, so that it may consider the problem anew.”

President Donald Trump said the day after the ruling the administration planned to comply.

“We will be submitting enhanced papers shortly in order to properly fulfill the Supreme Court’s ruling & request of yesterday,” he wrote on Twitter.

At the same time, Trump administration officials have indicated they are preparing a new policy to address the DACA situation that may take some time to develop.

“The court did not say how fast the administration had to act on applications,” Christopher Hajec, director of litigation at the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), told The Epoch Times. “It makes sense to delay granting them for a short period while the administration decides whether and how to rescind DACA, as it has full authority to do.”

When Trump announced in 2017 he would end DACA, he expressed sympathy for DACA recipients and said his cancellation of the program would force Democratic lawmakers to make a deal to allow the young people to stay. No such deal was reached in Congress.

During a July 24 telephonic hearing brought by DACA supporters, Maryland-based U.S. District Court Judge Paul Grimm, an Obama appointee, criticized the administration for not yet complying with the high court’s order, including not yet updating informational pages on government websites, Politico reports.

“That is a problem,” the judge said. “As for the inaccuracy on the website, that has to change and that should be able to change very quickly. ... It creates a feeling and a belief that the agency is disregarding binding decisions by appellate and the Supreme Court.”

U.S. Department of Justice lawyer Stephen Pezzi told Grimm that new DACA applications are being “held” and “placed into a bucket” while DHS officials consider what to do next with the DACA program.

“It is a distinction without a difference to say that this application has not been denied, it has been received and it has been put in a bucket,” the judge said.

The Trump administration is sending out mixed messages and “that puts applicants in doubt,” said John Freedman, lawyer for the DACA recipients.

“It puts immigration lawyers in doubt. Nobody knows what’s going on,” Freedman said. “It reinforces impressions that ... the administration, the defendants are not complying with the rule of law.”

At Conservative Review, DACA critic Daniel Horowitz urged the administration to take a tougher line.

The Supreme Court simply has no power to tell President Donald Trump that he “cannot rescind an illegal executive amnesty of his predecessor in the same way it was initially promulgated.”

“If separation of powers means anything at all and we are to preserve a country of checks and balances, Trump must not issue these visas.”

Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), told The Epoch Times that in the DACA saga, Trump is missing an opportunity “to educate the public about judicial overreach.”

Taking a shot at the Supreme Court, Stein said, “A court should not be able to use the Administrative Procedure Act to mask its real intention, and increasingly, judges resort to APA claims to delay decisions they may not agree with personally.”

The better course of action for the administration would be to “suspend new applications during the issuance of a new rule ending the program,” Stein said.

“And start terminating the status of those who have it. Don't ask me why the American people put up with a judiciary that is so far out of line.”