Young immigrants protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program thought that they’d be able to live their lives with just a bit more ease after the Supreme Court ruled last month that the Trump administration unlawfully ended the program. Instead, they’re not only grappling with the reality that the administration is outright defying the courts and refusing to reopen the program to other young immigrants, but it’s also moving to slash their protections.
“It’s such an uncertainty, not to be able to plan my life,” Adonias Arevalo told NBC News. He said he just renewed his $495 permit, but “is afraid this benefit will be reduced,” the report said. Alberto Gutiérrez, another young immigrant, is being blocked by the administration from his chance to apply even though he’s eligible. “Now I won’t have a social security number to be able to secure employment,” he said according to the report.
A Department of Homeland Security (DHS) memo signed by unconfirmed Sec. Chad Wolf this week made official that the Trump administration is defying both the Supreme Court and a lower court order to fully reopen the DACA program as it was before the impeached president started his attacks against it in 2017. That includes reopening DACA to as many as 300,000 young immigrants who have never been enrolled in it before, like Gutiérrez.
But the administration is taking this lawlessness even further by trying to put what remains of DACA under “a death knell,” advocacy groups said.
Under the full program, young immigrants are able to apply for work permits that last two years. But under the memo released by the unconfirmed DHS secretary, the administration seeks to limit that to just one year, which would further burden young immigrants by forcing them to pay the hefty $495 fee more often (along with attorneys’ fees if their particular case needs legal assistance).
“They are profiting from us, from our work, from our effort,” DACA recipient Lidieth Arevalo told NBC News. “They do not want to give us the humanity we deserve.”
Further court proceedings regarding this mess are happening today, immigration attorney Lily Axelrod said. “A federal court already ordered a high-level DHS official to come back to court this Friday to explain what on earth is going on and why the admin isn’t openly accepting new #DACA apps,” she wrote earlier this week. “Expect to see him/her raked over the coals, and possible contempt of court proceedings.” That’s what should happen—and among those who need to be held accountable are Wolf and his acting deputy, Ken Cuccinelli, the latter of whom apparently has plenty of time to tweet but no time to follow court orders.
In a statement following Trump’s latest attack, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden continued to pledge to use executive power to protect young immigrants should he win the election as he fights in Congress for permanent protections.
”As President, I will protect Dreamers and their families and offer a roadmap to citizenship for Dreamers and all 11 million undocumented immigrants enriching our country, so they no longer have to live in fear and uncertainty,” he said. “In a Biden administration, Dreamers can make plans to prosper and thrive here in America—right where they belong.”