Defense Secretary James Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon on Thursday that Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, known as DREAMers, who are serving in the military will not be deported, even if the program expires before Congress can come up with an immigration deal.
"We would always stand by one of our people," he said. Mattis' promise extends to DACA recipients who are on active duty, in the active reserves, veterans who were honorably discharged, and new troops who have signed contracts and are waiting to go to boot camp. It does not cover anyone who commits a serious felony, or apply if a judge has signed a final deportation order. "That would be a judicial action that obviously we obey in the court system," Mattis said. "We don't have veto authority over a court."
Mattis also said he confirmed with Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in a phone call on Thursday that the protections for active service members and veterans are in place. President Trump announced last year he would be rescinding the Obama-era DACA program, and it's set to expire on March 5. Catherine Garcia
Citing 'dysfunctional' Congress, senators consider kicking the can on DACA solution for another year
With a March 5 deadline looming for finding a legislative answer for people brought to the U.S. illegally as children, senators are reportedly considering a temporary fix that would put the issue off for another year, Politico reports. "That may be where we're headed because, you know, Congress is pretty dysfunctional," warned Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).
On Monday, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) plan to introduce bipartisan immigration legislation that would give Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients a pathway to citizenship, although Politico claims the approach is "unlikely to do the trick."
Still, with a temporary fix increasingly looking like the only realistic option, senators aren't happy: "I think that's a lazy way out of fixing a problem that we're on the brink of being able to fix," argued Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) while Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said "I'm a little concerned that if it's a very short-term fix that [DACA recipients are] still living in fear of what's gonna happen, rather than knowing that they can live in this country and work towards becoming a citizen, assuming they have a good record."
Last month, the government partially shut down after Democrats insisted they couldn't agree to a budget unless DACA was addressed. With the budget deadline coming up again on Thursday of this week, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told CNN's State of the Union: "I don't see a government shutdown coming, but I do see a promise by [Sen. Mitch] McConnell to finally bring this critical issue that affects the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in America, finally bringing it to a full debate. That's what we were looking for when there was a shutdown. We've achieved that goal, we're moving forward." Jeva Lange
While speaking to reporters on Wednesday, President Trump said he is open to a pathway to citizenship for undocumented young people brought to the U.S. as children, putting him at odds with some of the most conservative members of the Republican Party.
"We're going to morph into it," he said. "It's going to happen, at some point in the future, over a period of 10 to 12 years. Somebody does a great job. They worked hard. It gives incentive to do a great job. They've done terrifically. Whether they have a little company or whether they work or whatever they're doing — if they do a great job, I think it's a nice thing to have incentive of, after a period of years being able to become a citizen." Last year, Trump said he was ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which protected undocumented young people from deportation, and gave Congress until March 5 to come up with a legislative solution.
Trump told reporters he thinks a deal will be reached, and DACA recipients "should not be concerned" about being deported. He also reiterated that he wants $25 billion to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and $5 billion for additional security measures. "I can tell you this — if you don't have a wall you don't have DACA," he said. Catherine Garcia
The Justice Department will ask the Supreme Court to overturn DACA ruling, bypassing appellate courts
On Tuesday, the Justice Department said it would take the unusual step of asking the Supreme Court to step in and overturn U.S. District Judge William Alsup's ruling blocking President Trump's decision to wind down the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration program, bypassing the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. "It defies both law and common sense" that a "single district court in San Francisco" can halt Trump's plan, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement. "We are now taking the rare step of requesting direct review on the merits of this injunction by the Supreme Court so that this issue may be resolved quickly and fairly for all the parties involved."
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D), who filed one of the federal lawsuits that led to Alsup's injunction, said he was confident that higher courts will uphold the decision to block "the unlawful action by the Trump administration to terminate DACA." The fate of the roughly 700,000 DREAMers covered by DACA is a central sticking point in negotiations to fund the federal government. The Justice Department isn't requesting a stay of Alsup's ruling, The Washington Post notes, and as soon as it files its petition with the Supreme Court, the justices can take the case or wait for the 9th Circuit appellate court to weigh in first, as would normally happen. Peter Weber
In compliance with a Tuesday order from a federal judge, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced Saturday it will resume accepting applications for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which shields from deportation immigrants illegally brought to the United States as children.
Though DHS said "the DACA policy will be operated on the terms in place before it was rescinded on Sept. 5, 2017," the agency also noted no new applications will be processed; only previous DACA recipients, also called DREAMers, will be permitted to renew their status.
The Trump administration has been negotiating a DACA deal with congressional Democrats, but those talks stalled this week after President Trump reportedly disparaged Haiti, El Salvador, and African nations at an immigration meeting Thursday. "DACA is probably dead because the Democrats don't really want it," Trump tweeted Sunday, "they just want to talk and take desperately needed money away from our Military." Bonnie Kristian
On Tuesday night, a federal judge in San Francisco temporarily suspended President Trump's move to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which grants residency and work authorization to non-citizens who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children. U.S. District Judge William Alsup agreed to a request from California, the University of California system, and three other plaintiffs to require the Trump administration to continue accepting and processing DACA renewal applications while their lawsuits were being litigated. Attorney General Jeff Sessions' conclusion that DACA was illegal appeared to be "based on a flawed legal premise," Alsup wrote.
Under the ruling, the Trump administration does not have to accept new applications for DACA status but does have to renew the status of the 800,000 people already in the program. The Trump administration will likely appeal the ruling. It is unclear how Alsup's decision will affect ongoing budget negotiations between Congress and the White House, where Democrats are demanding legislation to protect so-called DREAMers as part of a spending deal. Peter Weber
President Trump's March 5 deadline for ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) immigration program isn't etched in stone, and Trump says he's willing to "give it some more time" if Congress doesn't step in to help the DREAMers first, Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said outside a town hall event in Tulsa on Thursday night. "The president's comment to me," he said, "was that, 'We put a six-month deadline out there. Let's work it out. If we can't get it worked out in six months, we'll give it some more time, but we've got to get this worked out legislatively.'" A Lankford spokesman tells The Washington Post that Trump made the comments in a phone call with the senator last month.
Democrats and some Republicans are pushing for a vote on the DREAM Act, and Lankford is offering a more conservative alternative called the SUCCEED Act that offers young undocumented immigrants a 15-year path to citizenship but bars them from pulling their parents along. "I think we'll be actually voting on something like this in January or February," Lankford said. "These are kids that have grown up here. I'm not interested in deporting them and kicking them out. But I'm also not interested in them ending up in a limbo status on this." A bipartisan deal looked plausible until Trump released a list of hardline demands on Sunday night. Peter Weber
More than 100,000 DACA recipients submitted renewal requests before the Trump administration's deadline
Thursday marks the final day for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status renewal requests as the Trump administration moves to "wind down" the Obama-era program that grants work permits to young immigrants brought into America illegally as children. Of the 154,000 people whose status will expire between Sept. 5, 2017 and March 5, 2018, more than 106,000 have submitted requests or had their renewals adjudicated, ABC News reports. The Department of Homeland Security reports that around 48,000 eligible immigrants have not sought to renew their status.
DACA serves approximately 700,000 "DREAMers" around the country, including many who grew up in America and have no memory of their countries of birth. "I can definitely work back in Morocco with an American degree in computer science," Achraf Jellal, who moved to New York when he was 4, told NPR's Morning Edition. "But I've never been there. I don't know any of my family, actually."
The Trump administration has passed off a DACA decision to Congress, although if there is no action in the next five months, recipients will lose benefits beginning March 6, 2018. "We cannot admit everyone who would like to come here. It's just that simple," Attorney General Jeff Sessions said when announcing the Trump administration's decision earlier this year. Jeva Lange