Despite a Supreme Court ruling stating otherwise, the Trump administration announced it would not take new applications for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, and limit those already in the program.
“… I direct (U.S. Department of Homeland Security) personnel to take all appropriate actions to reject all pending and future initial requests for DACA, to reject all pending and future applications for advance parole absent exceptional circumstances, and to shorten DACA renewals consistent with the parameters established in this memorandum,” a memo, which was signed by DHS Acting Secretary Chad Wolf on Tuesday, stated.
The memo reads that the administration will not process any new DACA applications, and with respect to the recipients already in the program, would make it so they have to renew their application every year, and not every two, as currently set.
Additionally, Wolf states he is considering a full rescission of the program, which would make the administration’s second attempt at eliminating it since Trump took office.
“I am rescinding the Nielsen Memorandum and the Duke Memorandum, and making certain immediate changes to the DACA policy to mitigate my enforcement policy concerns while I conduct a full and careful consideration of a full rescission,” Wolf stated in the memo.
In its first attempt, the Trump administration rescinded the President Obama-era program on Sept. 5, 2017, stating it would “wind down” the program, and stop taking new applications from eligible immigrants, and renewals would only be accepted through March 5, 2018.
DACA was set to expire in March 2018 but litigation in federal courts kept the program alive pending the court arguments.
The program provides nearly 800,000 immigrants a reprieve from deportation and the ability to work legally in the U.S. It does not, however, provide a path for citizenship.
More than 107,000 DACA recipients live in Texas, according to recent estimates.
The announcement comes a month after the highest court in the land ruled that the Trump administration could not end the program that shields the hundreds of thousands of migrants brought to the country as children from deportation.
The Supreme Court’s decision was followed by a lower Maryland federal court ruling weeks later that stated, once again, that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services must accept all new DACA applications immediately, after attorneys sued upon learning USCIS was “holding” the new applications.
The latest estimates show roughly 30,000 recipients of the program reside in the Rio Grande Valley and would be impacted by this latest announcement.
One Valley DACA recipient, Angela C., 22, was feeling better about the future just a month ago after the Supreme Court said the administration’s effort to end the program was unconstitutional.
The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley senior said she had a sense of relief after the Supreme Court’s ruling, but even then there remained apprehension as the Trump administration indicated it would try to end the program again.
Angela, just moments after the news Tuesday, in a series of messages sent to The Monitor, conveyed her surprise at the new attempt to end the program.
“I’m honestly shocked and extremely upset,” the Peñitas native said, characterizing the decision to deny new DACA applicants as “hateful.”
Angela, who is set to graduate this fall and go into teaching, said making renewals every year instead of every two years will cause more financial burden on an already vulnerable group of people, who pay nearly $500 for every renewal application.
Between her and other family members, she said she’s spent roughly $2,000 in applications and renewals over the years.
“DACA renewals are already expensive enough, and a lot of people already have trouble affording renewals,” she said. “I’m sure (Trump is) aware that by limiting DACA protection by only a year will cause many Dreamers enough time to raise the funds for their renewal.”
Abraham Diaz, an education specialist with La Union del Pueblo Entero, and also a DACA recipient, called Tuesday’s memo a slap in the face to the Supreme Court’s ruling last month.
“We truly believe in our democratic system and in the checks and balances, where if something is wrong and the Supreme Court says it is, then we must follow it,” Diaz said shortly after the news broke.
Diaz believes the administration’s disregard for the Supreme Court ruling is not only something that will impact DACA recipients’ lives, but could impact future decisions made by the highest court in the nation.
With respect to the memo; and the decision to make renewals annually, and not every two years, Diaz echoed Angela’s concerns on the financial burden this would create for thousands.
“You know the $500 — it’s already hard enough to (come up with that amount) every single year. We’re in the middle of a pandemic where thousands of families are left without jobs. We’re just finishing off a Category 1 hurricane, and now (DACA recipients) are having to worry about whether (their) work authorization will be valid or not,” Diaz said.
Jorge De La Fuente, attorney for LUPE, said it was prepared to file lawsuits if USCIS denied new applications.
“We will be waiting to see what USCIS decides to do. If they decide not to comply with the SCOTUS decision and the most recent Maryland Court ruling, LUPE will join a lawsuit on behalf of plaintiffs who are eligible as first time DACA applicants,” De La Fuente said in an email Tuesday.
U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, D-McAllen, offered his continued support for DACA recipients in a prepared statement Tuesday afternoon, and was clear in his criticism of the president.
“This decision is cruel, unwarranted, xenophobic and on brand for the Trump administration. It is in direct conflict with the recent Supreme Court ruling,” the congressman said in the statement.