The Trump administration is pushing back against a court order that would see the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program fully reinstated.
Last week’s ruling requires the federal government to restart the program—commonly called by its acronym, DACA—by August 23rd. The decision was condemned by the Justice Department, which pledged to “take every lawful measure” to defend Trump’s immigration policy.
Just under a year ago, President Trump formally rescinded DACA. Trump had spent months on the fence, flitting between campaign promises and an out-of-character sympathy for the program’s beneficiaries.
DACA recipients, known as Dreamers, are young men and women who arrived to the United States illegally as children. The program allowed certain eligible individuals to apply for renewable residency and work permits.
Since DACA’s inception, conservatives have criticized the initiative for providing amnesty to illegal immigrants—often, some claim, at the expense of American citizens.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions says DACA, put together under former President Barack Obama, overstepped executive authority. He’s also claimed that the program has enabled criminals to dodge deportation.
“The last administration violated its duty to enforce our immigration laws by directing and implementing a categorical, multipronged non-enforcement policy for a massive group of illegal aliens,” Sessions said on Monday. He added that the Trump administration, in discarding DACA, “simply reestablished the legal policies consistent with the law.”
Sessions also issued a series of arguments against Judge John Bates, who on Friday determined that the federal government had lacked legal justification when it terminated the program.
“Not only did the Trump Administration have the authority to withdraw this guidance letter, it had a duty to do so,” said Sessions, who’s remained outspoken on immigration issues.
He accused Bates of wandering outside the realm of the judiciary, suggesting that the judge was essentially dictating policy.
“The judicial branch has no power to eviscerate the lawful directives of Congress—nor to enjoin the executive branch from enforcing such mandates,” Sessions said.
“We have recently witnessed a number of decisions in which courts have improperly used judicial power to steer, enjoin, modify, and direct executive policy,” he said.
The attorney general has criticized DACA as well as locally-enacted ‘sanctuary’ policies. In May, Sessions implemented a “zero-tolerance” approach to illegal immigration, which resulted in thousands of young children being separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Trump’s decision to end DACA has faced constant legal push-back since it was announced last September. The order directing DACA’s termination has been modified and delayed numerous times.
Congress has tried on several occasions to achieve a long-term solution for Dreamers. Neither the House nor the Senate have managed to pass a comprehensive plan. President Trump’s demands for a border wall and billions of dollars in security funding have only complicated bipartisan efforts to negotiate and collaborate.