By Arun Kumar
Can DACA holders bank on Trump’s promise of ‘good things’?
Some 700,000 dreamers, including around 4,500 South Asians, who came to America sans documents as children, were elated with the Supreme Court’s decision last week upholding an Obama era rule protecting them from deportation.
But with President Donald Trump determined to undo the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that also enables dreamers to get two-year renewable work permits, despite the top court’s 5-4 decision for it, is it too early to pop the bubbly?
Even as Trump vowed to redo his September 2017 executive order to undo his predecessor’s 2012 fiat, he held out a cheerful message for the dreamers: “Put your chin up. Good things are going to happen.”
Only those who arrived in the US by 2007 before they turned 16 are counted among the dreamers. Nearly 40 percent of the dreamers arrived in America before they were five with an overall average age of seven.
The president has not spelled out what he has in mind, but the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) lost no time in declaring the Supreme Court decision as ‘unlawful’ in virtual defiance of the apex court.
The court’s June 19 “opinion has no basis in law and merely delays the President’s lawful ability to end the illegal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals amnesty program,” USCIS Deputy Director for Policy Joseph Edlow asserted.
“DACA was created through an Executive Branch memorandum after President Obama said repeatedly that it was illegal for him to do so unilaterally and despite the fact that Congress affirmatively rejected the proposal on multiple occasions,” he wrote.
“The constitutionality of this de facto amnesty program created by the Obama administration has been widely questioned since its inception,” Edlow stated.
“The fact remains that under DACA, hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens continue to remain in our country in violation of the laws passed by Congress and to take jobs Americans need now more than ever,” the official said.
“Ultimately, DACA is not a long-term solution for anyone,” Edlow said asking the Congress step in to reform US immigration laws if it “wants to provide a permanent solution for these illegal aliens.”
With this act, it can “prove that the cornerstone of our democracy is that presidents cannot legislate with a ‘pen and a phone,” he stated.
Trump himself painted the Supreme Court decision widely seen as a huge political loss for him as a victory.
“People don’t understand, but we actually won on DACA,” he told a campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, a day after the verdict.
“We actually won, because [the court] basically said, ‘You won, but you have to come back and redo it.’”
“So we’re refiling it,” Trump continued. “Most people would say that we lost. We didn’t lose. We’re gonna refile it.”
Writing in the Hill newspaper, Maria Cardona a longtime Democratic strategist likening the court opinion to “a Band-Aid that can be abruptly ripped off at any minute” acknowledged “It is anything but” a loss for Trump.
The court, she noted, “simply declared that Trump failed to end DACA in the correct manner, not that he couldn’t end it.”
“That failure was arbitrary and capricious in violation” of the Administrative Procedure Act, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote. But he as well as all other eight judges on the bench acknowledged that Trump has the legal authority to end it.
With another unknown Trump bombshell looming, immigration lawyers are advising dreamers to quickly “get their renewal applications in as soon as possible, get them in now.”
Holly Welborn, the policy director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada for one believes that the Supreme Court decision means that USCIS will have to accept even new applications which were stopped when Trump rescinded DACA.
“So if there are individuals who didn’t have DACA previously, that would be approved now, that would be eligible for DACA status,” she told KUNR public radio of Nevada.
“We’re encouraging those folks to get their paperwork together to prove their continuous presence in the US.”
Notwithstanding the immigration agency’s declaration of the Supreme Court decision as “unlawful”, Welborn wondered whether or not USCIS actually puts up new applications
But for now, she suggested using existing older applications. Welborn also strongly advised dreamers not to travel abroad as they risked getting stuck overseas, “because things change every day in immigration law.”
With the Supreme Court handing Trump a major victory in another case with a 7-2 ruling allowing his administration to quickly deport illegal immigrants including asylum seekers with limited judicial review, that sounds like good advice.
READ MORE: Five takeaways from DACA hearing in Supreme Court (November 13, 2019 )
There is hope for H4 EAD holders in court ruling on DACA (May 22, 2019)
Court rules Trump’s termination of DACA was unlawful (May 17, 2019)