The Trump administration announced a major rewrite of the DACA program, saying Tuesday it will reject all new applications and will cut the length of deportation amnesty for those already under the program from two years down to just one year.
An official briefing reporters on the move said they will also undertake a full review of DACA with an eye to determining whether to phase it out altogether.
The announcement comes a month after the Supreme Court rejected President Trump’s first revocation attempt, saying his team cut too many corners that first time around. The court said Mr. Trump could try again, and Tuesday’s move marked the first concrete step toward that.
“The administration is now undertaking a comprehensive review of the DACA program and the justifications that have been offered for winding DACA down, including its legality,” a senior administration official said.
He said they still have concerns about the program, and are issuing an interim rewrite that will limit DACA during the review.
Perhaps the biggest change is that no new applicants will be accepted. A federal court last week had prodded the administration over that question, saying he expected the program to be restarted in full in the wake of the high court’s ruling.
But the senior official who briefed reporters said they are issuing a new rewrite, effective now, which supersedes the previous legal debate.
In addition to blocking new applicants, the new DACA policy will only grant one-year renewals to the 650,000 or so people currently enrolled. That’s down from the two-year grants of deportation amnesty and work permits envisioned when President Obama announced DACA in 2012.
The Trump administration is also cracking down on Advance Parole, a program that had become a backdoor pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients, allowing them to leave the country then reenter in a new status that gave them an indirect opportunity to apply for a green card, the key interim step toward citizenship.
Some DACA recipients had abused Advance Parole, with nearly 3,000 grants during the program’s first three years. The new administration policy restricts Advance Parole to exceptional circumstances.
The DACA program grants a stay of deportation and confers work permits on illegal immigrant “Dreamers” who have completed a certain level of schooling and kept a relatively clean rap sheet. Announced by Mr. Obama ahead of the 2012 election, it has become a major test of immigration policy.
Mr. Trump took office vowing to erase the program, saying it was illegal for a president to grant such a broad amnesty. He said it was instead Congress’s job to deal with the issue.
In September 2017, he announced a phaseout of DACA, igniting a legal battle that culminated in the Supreme Court ruling last month.
Led by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., the court in a 5-4 decision ruled that whatever the legality of Mr. Obama’s move, illegal immigrants had come to rely on DACA, and the Trump administration didn’t take them into account when it revoked the program.
The court ruled that the administration does have the power to revoke DACA, but it must go through all the hoops.
In the wake of that ruling, a judge in Maryland ordered the program to be returned to the status quo before the 2017 phaseout, including accepting new applications and granting Advance Parole.
The administration official briefing reporters Tuesday said they are not going back to the status quo because they’re issuing a new DACA memo that changes the program, resetting the legal situation while they conduct their full review.
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