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Last week, United We Dream (UWD) unearthed video of Acting ICE Director Matthew Albence confirming plans that DACA recipients would be targets for deportation if the Supreme Court sides with the Trump administration and ends the DACA program.
Albence stated that when “DACA is done away with by the Supreme Court, we can actually effectuate those removal orders.”
Albence’s comments and their disturbing implications have received major attention in leading Spanish language outlets (see Univision Noticias and La Opinión for examples). And as leading legal observer Ian Millhiser of Vox observes, the video and comments also highlight the disconnect between the continued comments and plans of Trump immigration officials such as Stephen Miller, Ken Cuccinelli and Matt Albence and the credulous naivete of Chief Justice John Roberts.
Millhiser writes that Albence’s comments seem:
to contradict Chief Justice John Roberts’s understanding that such deportations will not happen …During oral arguments in November, Roberts minimized the consequences facing DACA beneficiaries should the program be terminated. Both the Obama and the Trump administration, Roberts claimed, ‘have said they’re not going to deport the people.’
…The chief justice appears to believe the Trump administration won’t deport former DACA participants if the Supreme Court rules against them. But, according to Albence, Roberts is wrong … If Roberts is going to rule against DACA beneficiaries, he should at least be cognizant of the full consequences of his decision.
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:
At this very moment, the one person in America with the biggest say in the lives of some 700,000 Dreamers with DACA is Chief Justice Roberts. The Chief Justice seems willing to give the President and his team the benefit of the doubt. If the Court allows the Trump administration to terminate their protection from deportation, Roberts seems anxious to believe that Trump and his administration would not do something genuinely awful like deporting Dreamers from the nation they grew up in.
Well, Chief Justice Roberts, you either have not been paying attention, or you are choosing not to see what’s right before your eyes.
The brazen comments by Albence, an Acting ICE Director, reflect the widespread belief within the Trump administration that the Supreme Court is part of the Trump team and on board with their unilateral approach to an unprecedented and radical immigration crackdown.
The pattern is familiar: announce an outrageous action; request expedited action in the Supreme Court after the lower courts rule against the outrageous action; count on the Supreme Court to rule in favor of the President. This play has been executed with the Muslim Ban and the border wall appropriations raids, and now teed up to end DACA.
But Albence may have spoken too soon. Chief Justice Roberts has been misled by Trump and been thrown under the bus by a lowly Trump administration official — before a final DACA decision has been rendered and announced. We can only hope he uses his decisive power in this matter to stand up to an increasingly lawless administration and stand for judicial independence and the rule of law.
For more on the disconnect between Chief Justice Roberts’s stated beliefs regarding DACA deportations and the stated comments of Trump officials, see this December assessment from America’s Voice