Update on DACA

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (also known as DACA) began as an executive action during the Obama administration as an initiative toward immigration policy overhaul, implementing certain conditions for those who had arrived in the United States during a certain time in their lives (before their 16th birthday) among other conditions as of its implementation. However, due to arguments from the Trump administration that question the constitutional cogency of DACA (primarily the fact that it was initiated as an executive action as opposed to cycling through the legislative branches of the government), the fate of DACA has come to hang in the balance, along with the fates of those remaining in the country solely because of the program – colloquially known as DREAMers, all 800,000 of them.

However, there are those who have come to champion the program and argue that the Trump administration is attempting to phase out DACA on premises-based solely on racist tendencies. Initiated by protests nationwide, the cause had been taken up by state government entities, including Washington’s Attorney General Bob Ferguson. Ferguson cites arguments against the administration that involve the Muslim-targeted travel ban, and he claims in the lawsuit that the administration has violated the equal protection clause of the Constitution by going after a demographic whose heritage hails with a vast majority from Mexico.

The Department of Justice, however, seems to have sided for the time being with the administration. Despite whatever suspected racial bias Trump may be expressed in this act, the DOJ cites back to Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ argument regarding the Obama administration’s act of circumventing the legislative branch altogether.

In recent developments of the lawsuit posed by several states in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, this argument by the Trump administration seems to have worked against them in the long-term. A Federal court in California had recently ruled that all legal advice regarding the determination that the DACA was unconstitutional meant that all research related to this supposed conclusion must be disclosed. Said Judge William Alsup, “Defendants argue that [the Department of Homeland Security] had to rescind DACA because it exceeded the lawful authority of the agency…They cannot, therefore, simultaneously refuse to disclose the legal research that led to that conclusion.” This determination also led to the conclusion that the Trump administration had waived client-attorney privilege because of the claim that DACA is unconstitutional. As of now, there are no less than five different lawsuits spurred from the attempts on part of the Trump administration to phase out DACA, one of them spearheaded by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, representing a state in which – statistics suggest – one in four DACA participants currently resides.

Alsup ruled that the administration must provide all legal advice regarding the unconstitutional foundation of DACA – including e-mails, letters, memos and other materials – by October 27.

Still, others criticize DACA as utilizing a sob story narrative to justify its implementation. It cites statistics that suggest that, while DACA claims to protect those children who were brought here without any authority to decide for themselves, many were actually teenagers or had crossed the border into the United States themselves – or both. Other pieces of evidence attempt to illuminate that 36 of the 149 countries of origin for DACA participants are considered, “wealthy, democratic and European” along with nine Asian countries that have thriving or developing economies.