On June 16, 2017, The New York Times, as well as other major media, reported that President Trump was, in effect, continuing a temporary reprieve for “Dreamers.” Some have buoyantly interpreted this to mean that DACA will not be cancelled, which is not entirely accurate. Notwithstanding the Department of Homeland Security news release that states that DACA “will remain in effect,” the Trump Administration quickly clarified that the ultimate fate of DACA remains under consideration. The intent of the news release, according to White House officials, was only to confirm that the executive action initiative (instituted by President Obama) was not being immediately rescinded-unlike the policy pertaining to parents of “dreamers,” a program which is otherwise known as DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents), which was. If anything, the cancellation of DAPA is equally newsworthy, although it understandably was overshadowed by DACA news.
The rescission of the stillborn program is, by no means, a surprise. DAPA had been practically moribund since the Supreme Court deadlocked on the issue and thereby left alone an appeals court ruling enjoining it. What is significant, though, is that this action officially cancels the memorandum which sought to implement it, a decision that carries deep and perhaps troubling ramifications for millions. According to the Frequently Asked Questions regarding the rescission, “Secretary Kelly considered a number of factors, including the nationwide injunction of the DAPA memorandum, the ongoing litigation, the fact that DAPA never took effect, and our new immigration enforcement priorities.” The move is particularly ominous given that DAPA was specifically referenced in Secretary Kelly’s DHS memorandum entitled “enforcement of the Immigration Laws to Serve the National Interest.” In that memo, all previous memoranda pertaining to enforcement and prioritization were rescinded with the exception of the June 15, 2012 DACA memo and the November 20, 2014 DAPA memo, which led some advocates to infer that DACA and possibly DAPA eligible individuals would be afforded some greater measure of discretion. Now that the DAPA is officially dead (if it wasn’t already), individuals who would have qualified for it would be unjustifiably Pollyannaish to assume that ICE will turn a blind eye to them just because they do not have a criminal record. The reality is that anybody and everybody who is here illegally or out of status is an enforcement priority. Under President Trump, ICE is aggressively carrying out its enforcement duties to an unprecedented degree with hardly a modicum of restraint. Statistics bear out a surge in apprehensions and prosecutions despite a staggering court backlog. Undocumented individuals should not be lulled into a false sense of complacency because the media has moved on from immigration to Russia. Enforcement is continuing. Prosecutorial Discretion is an obsolete notion, and DACA is on life support. The recent news, if anything, is only a harbinger of tough times ahead.
The above is general information only and not to be relied upon as legal advice. It does not create an attorney client relationship nor should it be relied upon as advice in lieu of consultation with an attorney.