In what on Democratic leader described as an "emotional" meeting on Wednesday, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly warned members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus that his attorneys believe that President Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the so-called "DREAMers" program, will likely be killed in court and it's looking like the Trump administration will not come to DACA's defense.
McClatchy reports that Kelly spent "more than an hour in an emotional Capitol Hill meeting" with congressional Democrats giving them updates on the status of "DACA, TPS and other Trump administration concerns." Regarding the "DREAMers" — illegal immigrants who entered the country as children and have been protected from potential deportation since Obama issued the executive order in 2012 — Kelly had some bad news: DACA is simply not "legally sustainable" as it is currently written.
If Democrats want to save the DREAMers, they're going to have to work with their bitter foes, the Republicans, to create a viable long-term solution. Kelly reportedly made clear to the Democrats that he personally supports the continuation of DACA but, unfortunately, the Trump administration doesn't appear inclined to protect it.
"From [Sec. Kelly's] point of view, in conversations he’s had with attorneys both inside and outside the department, that most of them felt that DACA as it exists, is not legally sustainable," said DHS Press Sec. David Lapan. "That was his personal observation," added Lapan, stressing that Kelly's assessment is not the final word from the administration.
The outspoken leader of the Hispanic Caucus, Democratic Rep. Luis Guiterrez (Ill.) described the meeting in dramatic terms. "I have never left a meeting so emotionally affected than from what I just heard inside," he said.
Under the highly controversial executive order, around 800,000 illegal immigrants are currently being shielded from deportation. Though the Trump administration has repeatedly signaled that the DREAMers need not worry about getting sent home, McClatchy notes that things have shifted after "a group of Republican state officials from 10 states, led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, called on Trump to stop the controversial program put in place by President Obama in 2012."
The administration can either phase out the Obama executive order or face the Texas-led legal challenge. Based on previous rulings, DACA looks poised to meet its end, and, according to Kelly, the administration is not going to fight if they lose in court.