Senate Democrats Urge Trump Administration to Defend DACA in Court
Legislative Update By: RJ Hauman
Senate Democrats are urging the Trump administration to defend President Obama’s unconstitutional Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) amnesty program in an anticipated legal challenge from Republican state attorneys general. (Law360, July 27, 2017) Forty-two Senate Democrats sent a letter to President Donald Trump asking that he direct the Justice Department to defend the DACA amnesty program, which 10 states have threatened to challenge in court if it is not rescinded by September 5. (Letter to Trump, July 27, 2017; see FAIR Legislative Update, July 17, 2017) “If this threat is successful, it would undermine your ability to set immigration policy for your administration and put hundreds of thousands of talented young people at risk of imminent deportation,” the lawmakers desperately wrote in a missive similar to one sent by 20 Democratic attorneys general the week prior. (Law360, July 27, 2017) Senators Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Jon Tester (D-MT), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), and Joe Manchin (D-WV) were the only minority members not to sign the letter. (Id.) It is worth noting that these lawmakers are all up for re-election in 2018 in states that President Trump won. (Id.)
The DACA program—instituted in 2012 through executive action— grants roughly 800,000 illegal aliens a reprieve from deportation, provides work authorization for renewable two year periods, and makes certain illegal alien minors eligible for some taxpayer benefits. Throughout the 2016 campaign, President Trump vowed to terminate DACA on his very first day. During a notable prime-time campaign speech in Arizona that focused exclusively on his immigration positions, then-candidate Trump said he would “immediately terminate President Obama’s illegal executive amnesty in which he defied federal law and the Constitution.” (Transcript of Trump Immigration Speech) Yet, more than six months into his administration, the unlawful DACA program remains in effect as if President Obama was still in office. (See FAIR Legislative Update, June 13, 2017)
With DACA’s future murky, former Gang of Eight leaders Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) recently introduced a new version of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act of 2017 (DREAM Act) amnesty bill. (See FAIR Legislative Update, July 25, 2017) The legislation, which has been rejected repeatedly by Congress and the American people since Durbin first introduced it in 2001, grants amnesty to illegal aliens who arrived in the United States unlawfully before their 18th birthday by offering work permits and a pathway to citizenship. (DREAM Act of 2017)
FAIR continues to urge the Trump administration cancel the DACA program. A recent letter from FAIR President Dan Stein to Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly can be found here.