Mixed Immigration Messages? Trump Administration's Latest on DAPA, Dreamers

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on June 19, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

In both his campaign rhetoric and his executive orders since becoming president, Donald Trump has been bullish on immigration. And while some of that executive action hasn't had its intended effect, immigration arrests have risen sharply since Trump took office, leaving many immigrants wary of their status -- and their safety -- in the United States.

That uncertainty wasn't helped with two seemingly contradictory actions from the Trump administration last week. On the same day as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security rolled back an Obama-era program that protected immigrant parents of a citizen or legal resident children, DHS also announced that it would continue the previous administration's policy of protecting undocumented immigrants who came to the country as small children. How long will those protections stay in place? And are these policies contradictory?

DAPA Is Dead

One could argue that Obama's Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, DAPA, died the day the Supreme Court deadlocked on the issue last year, but the Trump administration finally put it to rest on Thursday, announcing the program would be revoked. In truth, the policy was never really implemented in the first place.

The executive order, intended to offer illegal immigrant parents a pathway to citizenship if their children were either citizens or legal residents of the U.S., was announced in 2014, but blocked by a federal circuit court in 2015. After the Supreme Court failed to settle the matter one way or the other, that federal injunction stayed in place, blocking any future implementation. "There is no credible path forward to litigate the currently enjoined policy," according to the DHS press release, which also noted that the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program will remain in place.

DACA Lives?

Along with that press release, the DHS also posted a fact sheet on Thursday clarifying that the DAPA "rescission will not affect the terms of the original DACA program." Specifically:

DACA recipients will continue to be eligible as outlined in the June 15, 2012 memorandum. DACA recipients who were issued three-year extensions before the district court's injunction will not be affected, and will be eligible to seek a two-year extension upon their expiration. No work permits will be terminated prior to their current expiration dates.

But the preservation of DACA goes against one of Trump's central campaign promises to repeal the policy and the Los Angeles Times reports that Trump was given a draft executive order rescinding DACA back in February. And Jonathan Hoffman, the assistant secretary for public affairs at DHS told the New York Times, "There has been no final determination made about the DACA program, which the president has stressed needs to be handled with compassion and with heart."

What that handling will be and when it will come remain to be seen, so those uncertain about their immigration status would be wise to contact an experienced immigration attorney as soon as possible.

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