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Chief Justice Roberts Take Note: Trump Officials Again Pledge to Deport DACA Recipients

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During last November’s DACA oral arguments at the Supreme Court, Chief Justice John Roberts expressed disbelief that ending DACA would lead to additional deportations. The oral argument exchange gave the Trump Administration a benefit of the doubt they clearly do not deserve given their overall immigration track record and their subsequent stated comments regarding their willingness to deport Dreamers.

Yesterday again clarified the disconnect between Chief Justice Roberts’ credulity and the Trump Administration’s plans in a post-DACA world. During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Senator Dick Durbin questioned Henry Lucero, Associate Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO), on ICE enforcement plans should the Supreme Court side with the Trump Administration in its effort to end DACA (see video of the Durbin/Lucero exchange here). Lucero answered, “ICE carries out lawful orders and will continue to do so,” voicing support for deportations of DACA recipients with final orders of removal.

Lucero’s answer echoed earlier Trump administration comments this year from Acting ICE Director Matthew Albence, who stated that when “DACA is done away with by the Supreme Court, we can actually effectuate those removal orders,” as well as those of Ken Cuccinelli embracing the potential deportation of Dreamers.

The following is a statement from Douglas Rivlin, Director of Communication for America’s Voice:

Last November, Chief Justice Roberts appeared to want to remain in a cocoon of denial about the prospect that Dreamers with DACA will be deported by this administration if the Court rules in favor of the administration’s drive to end the program. Given the subsequent admissions of a host of Trump Administration senior officials that Dreamers will be deported, there can no longer be any wishful thinking or denialism around what would happen to Dreamers should the Court side with Trump on his decision to end DACA.

Last week, Chief Justice Roberts acknowledged the realities of the current national moment when he sided with the state of California and the Court’s liberal bloc in a case around COVID-19 restrictions for churches. He should now do the same on the DACA case, recognizing that adding a negative DACA ruling on top of this tinderbox moment in American history is the last thing our country needs right now. Not least of which, tens of thousands of DACA recipients are essential workers in frontline jobs and professions keeping America safe during the current pandemic. We can only hope Chief Justice Roberts uses his decisive power in this case to stand up to an increasingly lawless Trump administration and its transparent plans for Dreamers.”