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Trump administration hardens position on DACA; all new applications to be rejected

David Pendered
A few hundred people came out to a Labor Day rally in support of legal permanent status for migrants who came to the U.S. as children. Credit: Maggie Lee Metro Atlanta residents have demonstrated for years in favor of permanent legal status for DACA recipients. Hundreds attended this rally on Labor Day, 2017. File/Credit: Maggie Lee

By David Pendered

The Trump administration will not fully reopen the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The ruling renews uncertainty for an estimated 16,000 individuals in metro Atlanta, and 24,000 in Georgia, who are enrolled in DACA.

A few hundred people came out to a Labor Day rally in support of legal permanent status for migrants who came to the U.S. as children. Credit: Maggie Lee

Metro Atlanta residents have demonstrated for years in favor of permanent legal status for DACA recipients. Hundreds attended this rally on Labor Day, 2017. File/Credit: Maggie Lee

The new provisions were announced Tuesday – six weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the administration’s effort to end DACA, and 13 weeks before the presidential election.

This is the Trump administration’s second step in days to harden the president’s position on immigration. Last week, student visas were the subject of another ruling by the Department of Homeland Security.

The July 24 ruling on student visas determined visa applications likely will be denied to, “nonimmigrant students in new or initial status after March 9” if classes are offered fully online. The ruling came after the administration withdrew a prior policy in the face of a lawsuit brought by Harvard University and MIT. The University System of Georgia intends to resume in-person classes this Fall.

Regarding the DACA program, the memo says DACA could be, “maintained, rescinded, or modified,” according to the memo sent by Chad Wolf, acting secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Wolf has been at the center of attention over the deployment of federal agents into Portland and other cities.

The three main new policies state:

Chad Wolf

Chad Wolf

  • All pending and future DACA applications are to be rejected;
  • All requests to travel outside the United States are to be rejected, including country of birth, barring “exceptional circumstances;”
  • All DACA renewals are to be limited to one year; the current renewal period is two years. Wolf said renewal fees will not be changed, which Wolf observed will have the effect of, “increasing the total amount of renewal fees that an alien will be required to pay over a multi-year period….”

None of the three departments that received Wolf’s memo has a top executive, according to organization charts. The memos were addressed to acting administrators for Customs and Border Protection; Immigration and Customs Enforcement; and Citizen and Immigration Service.

Wolf observed in the memo:

  • “In accordance with the Supreme Court’s decision, I am determined to give careful consideration to whether the DACA policy should be maintained, rescinded, or modified. In the meantime, given my serious concerns about the policy, I have determined that some changes should immediately be made to the policy to limit its scope in the interim.”

The announcement ends a few weeks of relative ease for an estimated 600,000-plus individuals across the nation who were protected under DACA. The Supreme Court ruling had relieved them from imminent threat of deportation. The estimated number of recipients has varied over time.

The new measures rein in the Obama-era legal protections to noncitizens who came to the U.S. as children. Obama’s administration acted after Congress was unable to pass immigration legislation.

Trump had campaigned in 2016 on a promise to end DACA. His administration moved swiftly to fulfill the promise to curtail Obama-era legal protections to noncitizens who came to the U.S. as children.

In the Supreme Court’s June 18 ruling, justices issued a 5-4 decision that determined the Trump administration had not followed the proper steps to make a federal policy. In this case, the policy was the unmaking of the DACA program. The court sent DACA back to the Department of Homeland Security for further review. Chief Justice John Roberts voted with the majority and wrote for the majority.

Any notions that the administration would leave the matter alone until after the Nov. 3 presidential election were dismissed by the DHS announcement.

 

 

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David Pendered
David Pendered

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow.

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