NAICU Washington Update

New Threats to DACA Program

July 31, 2017

Idaho Governor Butch Otter, and nine state Attorneys General are threatening to sue the Trump Administration if it does not rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program established during the Obama Administration.

The group sent a letter to Secretary John Kelley requesting that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) phase out the DACA program, and stop issuing and renewing any DACA permits.

This action is likely in response to DHS’s earlier rescission of the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) program, where DACA was purposefully excluded from elimination.

The letter indicates that the group will not move forward with the lawsuit if DACA is rescinded by September 5, 2017.  Their rationale and basis for the suit is the recent rescission of the DAPA program as unconstitutional.  The letter argues that DACA should be rescinded on the same grounds and for the same reasons as DAPA was.

While the Trump Administration has taken a strong stance on immigration issues, so far the DACA program has survived.  The outcome of this recent threat may or may not force the administration’s hand.

In addition, this week the U.S. Supreme Court asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) whether DACA registrants are indeed legally present in the U.S.  This action arose in response to the difficulty of DACA individuals in Arizona being able to obtain drivers licenses.

In 2012, then Arizona Governor Jan Brewer directed the state Department of Transportation not to issue licenses to DACA recipients claiming that DACA does not infer “legal status” for individuals.  Having DACA status allows students to obtain work permits and avoid deportation.  In 2014, the DOJ told the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that Arizona had no right to deny the licenses.  However, current Arizona Governor Doug Ducey has upheld the 2012 directive from then-Governor Brewer, even though an appellate court has ruled that licenses should be issued.

The Supreme Court is now trying to determine if “DACA status” infers “legal status” and the decision is likely to be a much bigger issue than just for eligibility for certain licenses.  Given the original intention of the Trump Administration to eliminate DACA, and the more recent change of mind to leave DACA in place for now, the Supreme Court is now pushing for the Administration to make up its mind on the program.

While the Supreme Court gave no deadline for a response from the Trump Administration, the Court is not expected to issue a decision on the Arizona license case until October at the earliest.

MORE News from NAICU