Kamala Harris asks Trump to honor Supreme Court’s DACA ruling

Indian American, 32 other senators make demand as USCIS rejects new applicants ignoring top court’s DACA ruling.

Despite President Donald Trump’s promises to take care of the Dreamers, those who came to the US as children sans documents, his administration is rejecting new applications ignoring a Supreme Court ruling.

The top Court in a 5-4 decision last month rebuffed on technical grounds,Trump’s attempts to undo the Obama era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Protecting 700,000 dreamers, including about 4,500 South Asians from deportation, it also entitles them to two-year renewable work permits.

Trump has as recently as Tuesday promised to take “care of people from DACA in a very Republican way” despite objections from some Republicans.

“We’re going to work on DACA because we want to make people happy,” said the President who had a couple of days earlier suggested that it could even include even a path to citizenship for the Dreamers.

But with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) still rejecting new DACA applications, Indian American Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris, Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois, and 31 other senators, wrote to the acting Homeland Security secretary on Tuesday.

They demanded the department “immediately comply” with the court’s ruling and “fully reinstate DACA protections, as the Court’s decision unequivocally requires.”

On June 18, in an opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts, the Court held that the Administration’s effort to repeal deportation protections for Dreamers, young immigrants who came to the United States as children, was “arbitrary and capricious,” the letter noted.

READ: An Indian origin DACA recipient shares her arduous journey chasing the American dream (November 14, 2019)

The Administration had not filed a petition for rehearing on the issue by Monday’s deadline. And last Friday, President Trump said, “I’m going to do a big executive order. I have the power to do it as president and I’m going to make DACA a part of it,” the letter recalled.

“However, there is no indication that your agency has taken any steps to fully reinstate DACA protections, as the Court’s decision unequivocally requires,” it said.

Instead of complying with the Supreme Court’s DACA ruling, on June 19, USCIS “updated its website to falsely claim that the Supreme Court’s decision has ‘no basis in law’ and attack DACA recipients,” the letter said.

“The stakes are high,” wrote the senators noting, “More than 800,000 Dreamers have come forward and received DACA.”

“DACA has allowed Dreamers to contribute to our country as soldiers, nurses, teachers, and small business owners.”

READ: Five takeaways from DACA hearing in Supreme Court (November 13, 2019)

“Even as their own fates remained uncertain due to the Trump Administration’s rescission of DACA, over 200,000 DACA recipients have served as essential workers during the ongoing covid-19 pandemic,” they pointed out.

Since the Trump Administration rescinded DACA on Sep 5, 2017, USCIS has not accepted initial DACA applications from Dreamers who are eligible for DACA but have never received this protection, the letter said.

For example, children who have turned 15, the youngest age at which someone can receive DACA, have been blocked from applying since the DACA rescission, it said.

The letter also cited the Center for American Progress estimate that about 300,000 Dreamers who have never received DACA are now eligible to apply for the program, including 55,500 young people who have turned 15 since Sep 5, 2017.

NPR cited USCIS as saying the administration is still reviewing the Supreme Court’s decision and referred to the agency’s statement from last month that the high court’s ruling has “no basis in law.”

“The constitutionality of this de facto amnesty program created by the Obama administration has been widely questioned since its inception,” Joseph Edlow, USCIS deputy director for policy, was quoted as saying.

“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.”

USCIS is renewing DACA status for about 650,000 people who already have it. But it’s not accepting any new applications with a notice on agency remaining unchanged.

“USCIS is not accepting requests from individuals who have never before been granted deferred action under DACA,” it categorically states.

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