Donald Trump Vows To Keep Trying To End Dreamer Protections

President Donald Trump said Friday that he’d keep pushing to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals protections, putting hundreds of thousands of people at risk for deportation, after the Supreme Court blocked his past attempt. 

The justices ruled in a 5-4 decision on Thursday that Trump acted wrongly in ending DACA, an Obama-era program that allows young undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, often called Dreamers, to obtain two-year work permits and deportation protections. The way the Department of Homeland Security rescinded the program was unlawfully “arbitrary” and “capricious,” the majority opinion read. 

But the decision, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, left the door open for the department to try again. And Trump said he plans to capitalize on that, continuing his yearslong effort to crack down on undocumented and legal immigration. 

In a Friday morning tweet, Trump suggested that his administration would begin the process of ending DACA again ― while falsely implying that the Supreme Court had urged him to do it.

“The Supreme Court asked us to resubmit on DACA, nothing was lost or won. They ‘punted’, much like in a football game (where hopefully they would stand for our great American Flag),” Trump wrote, throwing in a jab at athletes who have staged peaceful protests over police brutality against Black people.

Trump also claimed that he is the true champion of the Dreamers ― as opposed to the Democrats who have pushed for immigration reform for years and implemented DACA in the first place. 

“I have wanted to take care of DACA recipients better than the Do Nothing Democrats, but for two years they refused to negotiate – They have abandoned DACA. Based on the decision the Dems can’t make DACA citizens. They gained nothing!” the president wrote.

While the Trump White House has offered some protections for Dreamers, it’s only been as a bargaining chip to gain the president’s actual immigration priorities: a border wall, limits to asylum and restrictions on legal immigration. 

Immigration activists, including Dreamers themselves, have argued that their protections should not come at the expense of other undocumented immigrants. Democrats have blocked the kind of deals the president envisions while advocating for legislation that would give Dreamers a pathway to citizenship. The Democratic-led House passed a bill to do so in June 2019, but the Republican-led Senate hasn’t taken it up. 

And Democrats said after the Supreme Court decision that Congress must act to protect DACA recipients, given the potential that Trump would continue to try to rescind the program. 

At any point the president could have pushed for a standalone measure to help Dreamers ― a majority of the public supports granting them legal status ― but he hasn’t. 

What Trump has done for Dreamers is to refer to them derisively, tweeting in November that some “are far from ‘angels.’ Some are very tough, hardened criminals.” And he’s long attempted to end DACA, which would put 650,000 recipients out of the legal workforce and at risk of deportation. 

It’s unclear how quickly Trump could rescind DACA if he does try again. The court ruled his past attempt violated the Administrative Procedure Act. The Department of Homeland Security could try again, but that effort would surely be challenged in the courts, too.

The threat, however, remains: Ending protections for and potentially deporting Dreamers is a priority for the president. 

In a separate opinion concurring with the majority on Thursday, Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote that the majority opinion was too dismissive of arguments that Trump’s past statements about Latino immigrants showed the decision to end DACA was motivated by discrimination.

“I would not so readily dismiss the allegation that an executive decision disproportionately harms the same racial group that the President branded as less desirable mere months earlier,” Sotomayor wrote.

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