President Donald Trump indicated Friday that he would try again to end the Obama-era program protecting undocumented immigrants who came to the country as children, a day after the Supreme Court ruled that his administration erred in how it carried out the first attempt.
The president in a series of tweets said the administration “will be submitting enhanced papers shortly in order to properly fulfil the Supreme Court’s ruling & request of yesterday.”
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany did not offer more details during a news briefing several hours later, only saying that the administration “wants to find a compassionate way” to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
On Thursday, the Supreme Court ruled against the administration in a case challenging its termination of the program. Created by President Barack Obama by executive order, it has given nearly 700,000 so-called Dreamers the ability to live and work legally in the U.S.
The high court did not decide on the merits of the program, but found Trump’s attempt to end it “arbitrary and capricious.” The court left the door open for the administration to try again in a way that complies with procedural law.
On Friday, McEnany framed the ruling as favorable to Trump. She said the majority opinion didn’t dispute whether the Department of Homeland Security could rescind DACA. Instead, “all parties agree that it may be rescinded, the dispute is instead primarily about the procedure the agency followed in doing so,” she said.
The White House did not specify when a new attempt to end the program would come, but the timing would be key to when and how many newly eligible people might be able to apply. Any second attempt to terminate the program also would have to pass legal muster, as lawsuits challenging it would almost certainly arise.
The nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute estimates that 66,000 young people have become eligible for DACA, but were barred from applying since the administration tried to end the program in September 2017. DACA applicants must meet specific age, education, criminal background, and other criteria to be eligible for the program.
DHS did not respond to a request Friday for comment and elaboration on the president’s tweet, but Ken Cuccinelli, the acting deputy secretary for the department, also took to Twitter, saying Trump had instructed DHS “to restart the DACA process in according with #scotus’s ruling.”
The Supreme Court in its ruling remanded the case to DHS to consider hardship to DACA recipients if they are deported, said Sarah Pierce, a policy analyst at MPI. The court said any second attempt to end DACA would need precise justifications for why the administration still wants to shut the program down. In other words, a rushed, poorly thought out attempt could be easily blocked, she said.
Pierce noted that last summer, after the Supreme Court ruled against the administration’s attempt to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, Trump similarly tweeted that his administration would try again to insert the question. A few days later, the administration stood down.
According to a Pew Research Center poll released this week, more than 70 percent of Americans support a pathway to citizenship for DACA participants, who are seen sympathetically by Republicans and Democrats alike. But ending the program that grants them temporary protection against deportation was one of the first things Trump did after taking office. Existing recipients have since been able to apply for renewals while challenges wound through the courts.
DACA was intended as a stopgap, however. Advocates, Dreamers, and lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have been calling for a more permanent solution.
“We need to take action and pass legislation that will unequivocally allow these young men and women to stay in the only home, the only country, they've known,” Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, a longtime supporter of DACA participants, said Thursday after the ruling.
Sen. Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., who in 2001 introduced the first Senate legislation to protect undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, called upon Trump to give DACA beneficiaries until the end of the year — or at least until after the November election — before deciding whether to end the program in a way that is consistent with the law.
Last June, House passed legislation that would grant permanent citizenship to up to 2.5 million undocumented immigrants. The bill passed 237-187, mostly along party lines, although seven Republicans supported it. The measure has not been taken up in the Senate.