Decision Time on DACA

On June 29, 2017, the Attorney Generals of ten states, and perhaps in an effort to out-do the other states, the Governor of Idaho (Motto: Go big or go home!), sent a letter to President Trump demanding that he end DACA for “reasons.” In the event Trump refuses to do so by September 5, 2017, these states would challenge DACA’s legality in an unfavorable legal jurisdiction.  At the time, it seemed cute, but now that deadline is looming on the horizon.

Map of DACA States

Pictured: One state with legitimate concerns about immigration; nine attorney generals with political ambitions.

Trump has acknowledged that a decision on DACA will be made by him alone and that he remains unsure where he will come down. While no one except Trump (and maybe Twitter, since I haven’t checked in a few minutes), know what the President will do, ending DACA immediately seems to be off the table.  Even the AGs’ letter doesn’t demand an immediate end to the program. What’s most likely to happen is a sunset of the DACA program, with USCIS announcing that it will stop taking affirmative applications for the program at some future date certain.

I agree that this is the most likely outcome, particularly since (1) the Trump Administration will not want to defend an Obama-era program in court; and (2) Trump has been stepping up his anti-immigration game lately, having openly supported the RAISE Act, which would cut legal immigration to the United States by fifty percent (50%) and favor highly educated, English-speaking immigrants.

I’ve previously posted that Trump’s support for the RAISE Act seemed odd, since the measure did not seem to have the legs necessary to make it to law.  But, in the context of the upcoming DACA decision, it’s not hard to imagine that Trump is trying to walk a line.  He spends the next month talking about cracking down on immigration abuses and generally parroting campaign promises knowing that they will go nowhere but they resonate with the populace.  Then when he shows some mercy on DACA (by sunsetting the program and not calling for immediate deportation of everyone in it), his supporters won’t think he’s a turn-coat.

Of course, this is all just speculation on my part. Maybe Trump actually thinks the RAISE Act will fly.  Maybe he will call for an immediate end to DACA and for the deportation of over a million people to countries that they haven’t seen since infancy.  At this point, I’ll be surprised by nothing.  But, realistically, the most likely outcome is what was anticipated by many immediately following Trump’s election in October – don’t count on DACA’s survival or on the passage of comprehensive immigration reform.  Time will tell if we’re right.

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