Trump Administration Rescinds Immigrant Protections But Preserves More Significant Ones

The largely symbolic order maintains protections for hundreds of thousands of Dreamers.

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly at his confirmation hearing.Office of the President-elect

Fight disinformation. Get a daily recap of the facts that matter. Sign up for the free Mother Jones newsletter.

The Department of Homeland Security has canceled an Obama administration program that would have blocked the deportation of undocumented parents of US citizens and legal residents. But the move was largely symbolic, since the program never actually went into effect—and in announcing its termination, DHS solidified the status of more significant protections for immigrants.

The canceled program, known as Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA), was introduced in 2014 but never took effect due to ongoing legal battles. The DHS memorandum released Thursday stated that the administration would leave in place a similar program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which spares children brought into the country illegally from deportation. “The June 15, 2012 DACA memorandum, however, will remain in effect,” the DHS announcement stated.

Immigrant rights advocates quickly noted that Thursday was the fifth anniversary of DACA, which has protected 787,000 undocumented youths from deportation, according to the Associated Press. 

During the campaign, Trump pledged to rescind both DACA and DAPA. The DAPA cancellation could help reassure Trump’s base that the administration is still committed to aggressively targeting undocumented immigrants. But right-wing activists have attacked the Trump administration for not rescinding DACA. The criticism escalated last week after government data showed that DACA approvals have not slowed significantly under the Trump administration.

DAPA was blocked in 2015 in federal court and never went into effect. Last year, in a deadlocked 4-4 vote, the Supreme Court let the injunction stand.

Had it gone into effect, DAPA would have allowed undocumented parents of US citizens and lawful permanent residents to work legally if they had been in the country since 2010 and had no criminal record. 

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly’s decision reverses a February 20 memorandum in which he allowed DAPA to remain in place—a switch that also highlights DACA’s precarious position. 

“Based on some of the wild, unpredictable things that [this administration has] done,” Jose Magaña-Salgado, managing policy attorney at the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, told Mother Jones this week, “I would not be shocked if at some point in the future this administration does end DACA.”

HERE ARE THE FACTS:

Our fall fundraising drive is off to a rough start, and we very much need to raise $250,000 in the next couple of weeks. If you value the journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us do it with a donation today.

As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

payment methods

ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Our fall fundraising drive is off to a rough start, and we very much need to raise $250,000 in the next couple of weeks. If you value the journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us do it with a donation today.

As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate