A senior administration official told Fox News yesterday that President Trump is expected to announce the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program as early as today. The DACA program provides work authorization to nearly 800,000 foreign nationals who entered the U.S. as children, have completed high school or a GED program, have passed a background check and do not otherwise have lawful status. While Trump promised to end DACA during his campaign, he has also stated that he will make his decision with “big heart.” The official position of the White House is that the president is “still reviewing” options.
This announcement comes at a critical time for immigration policy. Just last week, President Trump pardoned Joe Arpaio, the former Sherriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, a county which includes the city of Phoenix. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Arpaio enacted and oversaw (among other forms of police misconduct) the worst pattern of racial profiling in U.S. history. He was convicted of criminal contempt when he and his office continued to target and detain Hispanic people solely on the basis of their ethnicity, violating a ruling by the Supreme Court, a federal court order, and the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution.
Further, Tuesday marks the deadline set by 10 state Republican attorneys general for the president to end DACA. If not rescinded by September 5, these attorneys general have informed the president that they will amend and refile the 2014 lawsuit challenging DACA’s legality.
Finally, the country is still reeling after the devastation and record rainfall of Hurricane Harvey. Since the beginning of the rescue efforts, there have been reports that undocumented foreign nationals fear going to shelters due to fear of deportation (New York Times, August 31st, 2017, “Immigrants Battle Deportation Fears in Harvey’s Aftermath”). An end to the DACA program would only exacerbate the fears of the immigrant populations of Southern Texas and further complicate the Harvey rescue effort.
The administration’s announcement has already prompted significant opposition. Dozens of tech leaders, including executives from Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, General Motors and others, urged Trump to continue the DACA program in an open letter released on Thursday. They noted that without DACA, the U.S. economy would lose $460.3 billion from the national GDP and $24.6 billion in Social Security and Medicare tax contributions. Hundreds more business leaders have also stated their support of the program. Even GOP congressional leaders, including Paul Ryan, have urged the president not to terminate the DACA program, arguing there needs to be a “legislative solution” first.
At this time, it is still unclear when Trump will take action on the DACA program and what action he will take. For now, it is important to note that work authorization under DACA is granted in up to two-year increments, and it is expected that even if DACA is rescinded, the administration will allow DACA recipients to maintain their status and work authorization to their expiration date.
Green and Spiegel continues to monitor this situation carefully. If you have additional questions about the DACA program, you can contact us here.