DHS secretary Kelly says he won't defend DACA in court
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that allowed nearly 800,000 children of illegal aliens to avoid deportation may die as a result of court challenges. The Obama executive order that exempted massive numbers of illegal aliens who were children under 16 when they were brought into the U.S. by their parents will not be defended in court by the Trump administration, leading to its almost certain demise.
Kelly met privately with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, to alert them that the Trump Administration may stand by and let legal challenges defeat the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program that permits people brought to the states illegally as children stay on temporary visas.
Since March, 770,477 people had been granted temporary status through DACA waivers.
"I was encouraged that Secretary Kelly said he personally supports the DACA policy," Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) told Fox News. "But, you know, also discouraged that he couldn't say the administration would defend it or not."
The program would need to be defended in court if the Trump administration doesn't rescind it fully by September 5. That's because officials in 10 states are threatening to file suit challenging the constitutionality of DACA, which was created by an executive order signed by President Obama.
Some Republicans say they look forward to the litigation.
"Hats off to the state Attorneys General that have brought this," Rep Steve King (R-IA) told FOX News.
But ire across the aisle is now directed at Secretary Kelly.
Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) slammed Kelly as the most "unknowledgable member of the cabinet that I've ever met in my 25 years here," and accused Kelly of "trying to make a fool out of us by trying to say, 'oh it's the courts'."
The sentiment doesn't quite square with Kelly's own public appearances on Capitol Hill this summer.
A month ago, he told lawmakers that to make temporary status permanent for young people brought here illegally, they should turn President Obama's executive order into legislation.
"I'm not going to let you off the hook," Kelly told Congress. "You've got to solve this problem."
Kelly's boss, President Donald Trump, told reporters aboard Air Force One this week that he doesn't know what will happen with DACA.
"It's a decision that I make, and it's a decision that's very, very hard to make," Trump said.
The rationale for Obama's executive order was that children should not be held responsible for the crimes of their parents. But the question is, should children be used as an excuse to allow their illegal alien parents to stay in the country?
The program does not grant legal status to any illegal alien, child or not. It allows only the illegal to avoid deportation and only as long as the government does not enforce the law.
Proponents of DACA claim there is no difference between granting a few thousand children a stay of deportation and the 1.7 million illegals who are eligible for DACA. Numbers are irrelevant, they say. What matters is that the president has the authority to refrain from deporting anyone he chooses in any number.
Republican governors in ten states are challenging that notion, claiming that DACA is unconstitutional because it bypasses Congress. It is the Congress who is responsible for immigration policy, not the executive. It is one thing for a president to carve out a small number of exemptions to the law and quite another to create a massive loophole in immigration enforcement.
Without a defense from the administration of DACA, federal courts are likely to agree with the governors. There will not be an immediate deportation of tens of thousands of former DACA participants. But once the program is dropped, those who were eligible for DACA will be taking their chances of being deported just like any other illegal alien.