- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 23, 2018

The Trump administration for the first time connected the Obama-era DACA program to the surge of children and families on the border, in new court documents filed Friday laying out in more expansive detail why the courts should invalidate DACA.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said taking a weak stance sent the wrong message to would-be migrants, and the government must cancel the DACA program to fix that.

“Considering the fact that tens of thousands of minor aliens have illegally crossed or been smuggling across our border in recent years and then have been released into the country owing to loopholes in our laws … it is critically important for DHS to project a message that leaves no doubt regarding the clear, consistent and transparent enforcement of the immigration laws against all classes and categories of aliens,” she wrote in a memo.

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The document was meant to expand on the justification then-acting Secretary Elaine Duke gave last September when she announced a phaseout of the DACA program.

Several federal judges have ruled her phaseout decision wasn’t well-thought out, and used circular logic that relied on the fear of a legal defeat in the courts to scrap the program.

Those judges have put her phaseout on hold.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who won one of those court injunctions halting the Trump phaseout, said the new filing was misguided.

“The Trump Administration doubling down on its decision to terminate the DACA program is based on its flawed conclusion that DACA is unlawful,” he said.

His legal team successfully argued that DACA recipients had built up a legal interest in the program, states and communities have come to rely on them as legal workers, and the program can’t be stripped away without the government going through the full process of notice and comment.

The Trump administration, in the new memo, says from the time the Obama administration started DACA in 2012, it said the program could be revoked at any time, and was always meant to be temporary.

Ms. Nielsen laid out both legal and policy arguments for why DACA is bad policy and bad legally.

She admitted the Dreamers who apply for DACA are “sympathetic” figures, but said that’s not enough of a reason for the administration to steal powers that rightly belong to Congress.

The DACA program created a two-year renewable stay of deportation. Those who qualified were also given work permits, entitling them to driver’s licenses and some taxpayer benefits.

More than 800,000 people were approved for the program and nearly 700,000 were still being protected under it as of several months ago.

Ms. Nielsen said there’s nothing wrong with granting special relief to Dreamers on a case-by-case basis, but she said DACA was a categorical program that saw applications of people who met the age and education requirements virtually rubber-stamped.

She said those sorts of decisions on big programs like that should come from Congress, not the executive branch.

While several judges have ruled the Trump phaseout illegal, Texas and several other states have filed a lawsuit arguing the original DACA program itself is illegal.

Should Texas win that case it could create a bizarre situation where DACA is illegal, but so is getting rid of it.

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