WASHINGTON – The Trump administration said Tuesday that it will reject new applications and shorten renewal periods for an Obama-era program that shields young people from deportation, taking a defiant stance after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to let it be scrapped completely.
The move, detailed in a memo from Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, ended a month of uncertainty about how the administration would respond to its Supreme Court defeat in an election year that has President Donald Trump looking for ways to energize his base.
Wolf said the administration may try to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program again, casting it as a law enforcement issue that could contribute to illegal immigration. He said the federal government needs more time to consider next steps, presenting the measures as a temporary change.
“DACA makes clear that, for certain large classes of individuals, DHS will at least tolerate, if not affirmatively sanction, their ongoing violation of the immigration laws,” Wolf wrote in the memo.
About 650,000 people are part of DACA, which allows young immigrants who were brought to the country as children to legally work and shields them from deportation. Roughly 66,000 more would be eligible if new applications were accepted because they met the age requirement — 15 — after the Trump administration tried to end the program in 2017, according to the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute.
The government will deny all new applications, limit renewals to one year instead of two, and deny requests by DACA recipients to visit their home countries unless there are “exceptional circumstances.” Recipients may seek permission to return home for family events, such as funerals or weddings, and other reasons, though the Trump administration has generally denied them.
The Supreme Court ruled last month that Trump failed to follow rule-making procedures when he tried to end the program, but the justices kept a window open for him to try again.
The White House has been devising plans to make another push to end DACA, though it was not immediately clear whether he would make the politically sensitive move before November’s election. Democratic rival Joe Biden wants to keep DACA unconditionally.