- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Re-starting the DACA program in full will mean prioritizing illegal immigrant “Dreamers” over others — guest-workers and legal immigrants — who are already waiting in line, the government told a court this week.

The Trump administration is fighting to try to head off a judge’s order that the entire Obama-era deportation amnesty for Dreamers be put back into place.

In new court papers filed late Tuesday U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said if it’s forced to re-start the program completely it will mean slowing down approval for high-skilled guest workers and relatives seeking to join their American citizen family members here in the U.S.

USCIS also predicted a flood of 50,000 new applications right at the start from people who would have applied over the last year, but were blocked by President Trump’s decision to phase out the DACA program.

Several other judges have ordered the DACA program kept in place for the 700,000 or so Dreamers who had already been approved, but a judge in Washington, D.C., recently ordered that the program be reopened even for illegal immigrants who’d never qualified before. His order would also reopen a pathway to citizenship for them — something the Obama administration had said wouldn’t happen when it created the program in 2012.

“It is DHS’s considered judgment that rescinding DACA best achieves the agency’s immigration enforcement policies and priorities. By preventing the Secretary from implementing her considered policy judgment, the Court’s Orders not only harm Defendants but also the public at large,” the government’s lawyers said in their new filing.

The DACA issue is quickly heating up again — though the battleground is the courts, not Congress, where efforts to find a legislative solution stalled when neither the House nor Senate was able to pass bills granting full legal status to Dreamers.

Trump administration officials have either appealed or signaled an appeal of all three court rulings in New York, California and Washington finding the DACA phaseout illegal to one degree or another.

Meanwhile another case is still pending in a federal court in Texas, where state officials have challenged the original 2012 DACA program itself.

That case has been argued and a ruling could come any time. If that judge were to rule the original DACA program illegal, it’s not clear how that would square with the other courts that have ruled the phaseout illegal.

All sides agree the issue is likely to end up before the Supreme Court in the next term, which begins Oct. 1.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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