What To Expect In The Trump Administration's Next Attack On DACA

Published: Thursday, July 9, 2020 - 3:31pm
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LAUREN GILGER: Most U.S. adults think immigrants brought here as children should get some sort of permanent legal status. So says a Pew Research Center report published the day before the Supreme Court saved the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program last month. The next day, President Trump said that he still planned to cancel DACA. For an update on where the Obama-era program sits now, I'm joined now by KJZZ's Matthew Casey. Good morning, Matt.

MATTHEW CASEY: Good morning, Lauren.

GILGER: So the Washington, D.C. based publication The Hill cited anonymous sources in its reporting that new paperwork to end DACA would be filed this week. Have we seen this happen yet?

CASEY: No, we haven't. But along the line of what you were talking about, about the popularity of the group of immigrants, that includes DACA recipients, The Hill reported the next day that a handful of evangelical leaders, members of the president's base, wrote to Trump and asked him to not end the program that has about 24,000 Arizonans in it. Now, the Associated Press reported that the president's chief of staff said an executive order on immigration could be signed this week. That's obviously much less specific. So it's only Thursday, we don't know anything about DACA. But already this week, ICE has told international students they need to take in-person classes or leave. And yesterday, the administration proposed a new asylum restriction.

GILGER: Hm. So there's a financial upside, though, for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to keep DACA going, right?

CASEY: Absolutely. That agency is fee reliant, I think, like 97%, and plummeting revenue has most of its workers facing furloughs in less than a month. So DACA had about 650,000 people in the program nationally at the start of this year. And every year, every other year, every one of them has to pay $495 to renew their DACA. So when you do the math, that adds up to about $322 million in two years, which is more than a quarter of what Citizenship and Immigration Services is seeking in emergency money over that same time period.

GILGER: And that's just DACA renewals, so it would be more if the government were to start taking new applicants. What should we watch for in a new administration plan to end DACA?

CASEY: Watch for, look for the reasons the administration gives and then keep an eye on whether it sticks to them. SCOTUSblog, their analysis of last month's opinion says a changing explanation was part of what made the first attempt at ending DACA, what, part of what put it at odds with federal procedure law. Other questions include, will there be a sort of itemized list of reasons for taking away each benefit, especially the protection from deportation? And finally, what's the timeline for ending DACA or what would be the timeline for ending DACA? And how does that account for the reality that people who have it count on the program to live their lives?

GILGER: What would be the reaction, Matt, if or when Trump moves to cancel DACA?

CASEY: Well, second verse, same as the first, right? Expect lawsuits and expect a lot of them. And I think it's very likely it'll go back to the Supreme Court. The thing about that scenario, though, is that it sort of assumes that Trump wins reelection in November and has the time in office to see another case all the way through the system. If he loses, the new president can use their executive power to restore DACA. But the big picture, though, is that DACA is not the permanent legal status that that was mentioned in that Pew study that you talked about at the beginning. It's really just a Band-Aid that keeps people in perpetual limbo and doing what the majority of Americans want requires something lawmakers haven't been able or willing to do for decades. And that's immigration reform.

GILGER: All right. That is KJZZ's Matthew Casey with the latest on DACA for us. Matt, thanks so much.

CASEY: Thank you, Lauren. 

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