Immigration and Customs Enforcement is reportedly filing new claims with the immigration courts seeking to begin deportation proceedings against several people who fall under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA, on the assumption that DACA will be allowed to expire without Congressional action.
The Chicago Tribune’s media wire reports that ICE is “asking immigration courts to deport some young adult immigrants who have remained in the U.S. under a program known as DACA,” even though the program is still under active litigation and both sides have petitioned the United States Supreme Court to hear appeals related to the executive order, signed by former President Barack Obama and discontinued by President Donald Trump.
Information about ICE’s filings comes from immigration advocates whose clients are the subject of the deportation hearings.
“DACA recipients, while they’re supposed to be protected, we’re seeing they are actually being targeted in some cases,” one immigration rights activist told Tribune media, adding that he’s heard of DACA recipients being targeted for deportation hearings in at least three states though he did not provide the media outlet with proof of his claims.
CNN reports that “ICE has begun asking immigration courts to reopen administratively closed deportation cases against DACA recipients who continue to have no criminal record, or only a minor record. Immigration attorneys in Arizona confirmed at least 14 such cases being reopened since October, and CNN also found DACA recipients whose cases recently were reopened in Nevada and Missouri.”
So far, CNN found, DACA recipients have been warned that if DACA is allowed to expire, they should expect administrative proceedings, suspended when DACA was passed, to be reopened, but haven’t yet been asked to appear in court.
“There’s some fear, there’s anxiety,” the same activist added in his interview with the Tribune. “Obviously there’s a lot of unknown.”
DACA protects immigrants (commonly referred to as “Dreamers” because of the DREAM Act that gave rise to the idea of DACA) who were brought to the United States illegally by adults when they were minors and could not actively consent to breaking United States immigration laws, but it is an executive order with a sunset provision, meaning that DACA was never intended to provide limitless protections from deportation for those covered by the order. Former President Obama, ostensibly, authored and signed the order assuming that Congress would make the protections permanent — something that was discussed several times but never happened.
The Trump Administration — and President Trump himself — has said that he has no intention of re-upping the order, leaving Congress in charge of extending DACA protections, if they so choose. The Administration has not, however, said that they will actively pursue deportation against DACA recipients; they may be leaving that decision up to ICE.
Although ICE may be filing orders to begin deportation proceedings, it’s unlikely any immigration court will pursue those requests — at least while DACA is still under litigation and parties to such litigation are still pursuing appeals. The Supreme Court heard an appeal on DACA back in November 2019, over whether the Trump Administration properly ended the program. A decision from the Supreme Court on the issue isn’t expected until May or June of 2020.