Trump Administration Won’t Protect Undocumented Parents Whose Children Are U.S. Citizens

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Trump Administration Won’t Protect Undocumented Parents Whose Children Are U.S. Citizens

Jessica Mason Pieklo

The Department of Homeland Security says it sees "no credible path forward" to defend the Obama-era policy de-prioritizing detention and deportation of undocumented parents with children who are U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents.

The Trump administration on Thursday walked away from an Obama-era policy designed to protect undocumented immigrants with children in the United States who are either permanent residents or U.S. citizens.

Deferred Action for Parents of Americans, or DAPA, set forth a policy that de-prioritized detention and removal proceedings of those undocumented immigrant parents. Conservatives have long criticized the policy, with 26 states suing, arguing President Obama overstepped his authority in enacting it. A federal court agreed and blocked the administration from enforcing the policy. In June 2016, a deadlocked U.S. Supreme Court kept that order in place, and the program has since been on hold as the legal challenges continue.

Thursday’s announcement that the Trump administration was rescinding the policy means the administration will no longer defend the policy in court, stating in a press release that “there is no credible path forward to litigate the currently enjoined policy.”

This reflects the administration’s shift to harsher immigration raids that have separated parents from their children, prompting some city officials to declare themselves “sanctuary cities” for undocumented people in opposition to President Trump’s draconian immigration policies. 

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Thursday’s announcement states the administration is keeping in place for now DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. That program deferred deportation actions against undocumented children, known as Dreamers, and extended work authorization permits for DACA-eligible recipients from two to three years. A federal court blocked that portion of DACA as well. 

Thursday’s announcement keeps that two-year limit in place. 

Trump on the 2016 campaign trail promised to revoke DACA immediately, and his administration has already deported DACA-protected immigrants. It is unclear if Thursday’s announcement will reflect an actual shift in enforcement priorities for the administration or if it is means the administration will stop defending the DACA expansion in the litigation surrounding it.