The Trump administration on Sept. 4 announced plans to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which protects nearly 800,000 young undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children from deportation. The president’s decision is not only regrettable, it was entirely unnecessary, said immigration law expert Stephen Legomsky, the John S. Lehmann University Professor Emeritus in the School of Law at Washington University in St. Louis.
“Trump could have chosen to let the threatened litigation proceed, decline to defend DACA in court, and leave its defense to the very capable lawyers representing MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund),” Legomsky said. ” There are ample legal defenses that would have made its demise anything but inevitable.
“Among other obstacles, it would have been extremely difficult for Texas to demonstrate how the continuation of DACA would have harmed it; showing such harm is not only a requirement for standing to sue, but also relevant to the issuance of a preliminary injunction,” he said.
“And as I have shown in recent congressional testimony, both DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans) and DACA are well within the president’s legal authority, notwithstanding Judge (Andrew S.) Hanen’s badly flawed legal reasoning to the contrary.”
Hanen granted a preliminary injunction against DACA in early 2015, barring the Obama administration from continuing to implement the program.
“At this point, the only hope for long-term residents who were brought to the U.S. as children and cannot under any standard be thought morally culpable for the actions of their parents is legislation,” Legomsky said.
“Congress must act promptly to avoid destroying the lives of hundreds of thousands of these residents and their families,” he said. “From all reports, legislation to protect them has bipartisan support. The ball is now squarely in the courts of Speaker (Paul) Ryan and Senate Majority Leader (Mitch) McConnell. May they have the political courage to do the right thing.”