Trump Admin Accused of Defying Supreme Court Order to Reopen DACA Program

Democrats have accused the Trump administration of failing to cooperate with a Supreme Court order to reopen the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which allows hundreds of thousands of people brought to the U.S. illegally as children to live and work in the country.

"Last month the Supreme Court ordered the Trump administration to reopen DACA for new applicants. A month later, that still hasn't happened. This is unacceptable," Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) said in a tweet on Wednesday.

Attaching a letter signed by Democrats and independents and addressed to Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad Wolf, Feinstein said Democrats were calling on Wolf to "immediately begin complying with the Supreme Court's decision, which was delivered by Chief Justice John Roberts.

As the letter, which is dated to Tuesday, notes, on June 18 the Supreme Court held that the Trump administration's efforts to repeal deportation protections for those who benefit from the DACA program, known as Dreamers, was "arbitrary and capricious."

The Supreme Court had given the government 25 days to reopen the program and start accepting applications again.

This week, the deadline passed. Yet, the letter from Democrats states, "there is no indication that your agency has taken steps to fully reinstate DACA protections, as the Court's decision unequivocally requires."

"We have not located a single statement by you or any other Department of Homeland Security (DHS) official notifying the public that your agency is complying with the Supreme Court's decision," the letter, which is signed by a number of Democratic senators, including California Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, states.

"To the contrary, on June 19, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) updated its website to falsely claim that the Supreme Court's decision has 'no basis in law' and attack DACA recipients'," it notes.

Indeed, on June 19, USCIS put out a statement asserting that the decision "no basis in law and merely delays the President's lawful ability to end the illegal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals amnesty program."

The letter also questions why USCIS's page on "Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals" had not yet been updated as of Tuesday.

By Thursday, however, the page had still not been updated, with the last update dated to February 14 of this year.

According to NPR, the Trump administration has been processing renewals of DACA coverage. However, it does not appear to be accepting new applications.

Yet, the Center for American Progress has estimated that as many as 300,000 Dreamers who have never received DACA may now be eligible to apply for the program, including 55,000 of the youngest potential beneficiaries, who have aged into eligibility over the past three years and should now be able to apply for the first time.

"Your agency has had ample opportunity to prepare for the recent Supreme Court decision," the letter from Democrats and independents states.

It also asserts that for many across the U.S. "the stakes are high" if the Trump administration fails to follow the Supreme Court order.

"More than 800,000 Dreamers have come forward and received DACA. DACA has allowed Dreamers to contribute to our country as soldiers, nurses, teachers, and small business owners," it states.

It further notes how "even as their own fates remained uncertain due to the Trump administration's rescission of DACA, over 200,000 DACA recipients have served as essential workers during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic by teaching children; growing, packaging, cooking and shipping food; stocking the shelves at grocery stores; and providing healthcare services to those who fall sick."

The letter from Democratic senators and independents calls on the Trump administration to ensure that they are able to submit and see their applications approved.

Despite the letter being sent on Tuesday, on Wednesday, Sen. Dick Durbin tweeted out that President Donald Trump was still "in open defiance" of the Supreme Court's decision shutting down efforts to repeal DACA.

"The stakes are too high—both for the rule of law & lives of Dreamers—to dismiss this as yet another Trump outrage," Durbin said.

"Republicans and Democrats in Congress must come together to compel the President to immediately comply with the Supreme Court's mandate," he said.

Newsweek has contacted the DHS and USCIS for comment.

DACA
Activists hold a banner in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on June 18, 2020. The US Supreme Court rejected President Donald Trump's move to rescind the DACA program. NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty