As you may know, on June 15, 2012, former President Obama announced the establishment of the DACA program, unilaterally granting deferred action for certain individuals who were brought to the United States as children by parents who had entered the country illegally. The intent behind the creation of the program was to allow eligible individuals who did not present a risk to national security or public safety to request temporary relief from deportation proceedings and apply for work authorization. However well-intentioned, though, the former president’s establishment of the DACA program was a clear abuse of executive authority – an attempt to essentially create law out of thin air – and the Constitution is explicit in regard to the separation of powers: Congress writes the laws, not the president.
This is why, on September 5, 2017, President Trump issued a directive to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to initiate an orderly phase out of DACA, with a limited, six-month window during which the department will consider certain requests for DACA and applications for work authorization in accordance with specific parameters outlined by Elaine Duke, the Acting Secretary of DHS. Should you be interested in reading Acting Secretary Duke’s memorandum on the rescission of DACA, you may do so by visiting the DHS website.
The President’s announcement, which does not revoke permits immediately, restores the proper role of the legislative and executive branches. In fact, the President’s statement explicitly states, “As President, my highest duty is to defend the American people and the Constitution of the United States of America. At the same time, I do not favor punishing children, most of whom are now adults, for the actions of their parents. But we must also recognize that we are a nation of opportunity because we are a nation of laws.”
Moving forward, it is important that those affected have clarity on the manner in which the interim period will proceed. Young people – who came into this country through no fault of their own – are at the heart of this issue. For many of them, the United States is the only country they have ever known. The status of these individuals is complex matter, involving many immigration issues, such as border security and interior enforcement, that previous Congresses have failed to adequately address over the years. I plan to ensure that Congress, with the President’s leadership, will be able to find consensus on a permanent legislative solution that includes ensuring those who have done nothing wrong can still contribute as a valued part of this wonderful country.