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Lawlessness Continues As Trump Defies Supreme Court on DACA

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“The President remains on very shaky ground politically and legally as he ignores  the Supreme Court’s ruling and leaves hundreds of thousands of DACA-eligible immigrants in limbo.”


Five weeks ago today, the Supreme Court ruled that President Trump and the Department of Homeland Security unlawfully ended the DACA program. Five weeks later, the Trump Administration has done nothing to comply with the ruling and restore the program to its original state. DHS is not accepting new applications even though the U.S. District Court in Maryland ordered the administration to do so.

While it is unclear who exactly would pay a penalty or serve jail time for contempt of court in a situation like this — largely because there is so little precedent for a government or President defying the Supreme Court — but Trump’s lawlessness fits a broader pattern. Just this week, Trump unilaterally sidestepped a recent Supreme Court decision and the Constitutional mandate that all persons be counted in the decennial Census.

Can a President simply defy a Supreme Court ruling he doesn’t like? 

Beyond the legal and Constitutional questions this is forcing on the United States, there are clear political consequences for the President and his fellow Republicans for not acting to restore DACA. New polling released today by America’s Voice, The Immigration Hub and FWD.us underscores the President’s vulnerability on DACA. The poll, conducted online by Global Strategy Group of 1,504 likely swing voters across twelve battleground states from May 27th to June 3rd, 2020 (before the SCOTUS ruling) found, according to a memo from the pollsters:

Top anti-Trump immigration messages include his positions on DREAMers and a contrast of his wasteful spending on the wall to how we should be instead helping people and businesses stay afloat during the pandemic.

According to Douglas Rivlin, Director of Communication for America’s Voice:

The longer Trump waits to respond to the Supreme Court on DACA, the more his efforts to end DACA will hang around his neck like an anvil weighing him down with voters he and Republican Senators need this fall. One could argue that defying the Supreme Court would be to his advantage if the American people were with him on DACA, but they aren’t. The American people are clear that they want Dreamers to stay, DACA restored and a lot of other immigrants to be given a chance to work and live here legally with their families. 

They haven’t restored DACA, nor have they taken new action to kill it as they have threatened. One reason could be that the Senate is still in town hammering out another COVID-19 relief package. The House-passed HEROES Act includes measures to automatically extend deferred action for DACA recipients and extend work authorization for TPS Holders and others. Perhaps President Trump does not want to inject DACA deportations into the Senate debate because he knows it is a loser with the American people and might even cause some of his normally compliant Senate Republican allies to break with the President because the politics are so clearly bad for their reelection prospects.

We know that white nationalist and close presidential advisor Stephen Miller greatly influences the President’s actions on immigration (with further evidence revealed this week in emails obtained through FOIA). Miller is hoping to parlay broad support for Dreamers into a grand bargain to exchange their safety for drastic cuts in legal immigration and a reformulation of our system to substantially favor white immigrants. Perhaps this is the big new executive action the President has hinted at in recent weeks and they are just waiting for the Senate to leave town — and the possibility of legislative action in the COVID-19 package ends — before this new anti-immigration gambit is announced.

Whatever the reasons for the delay, the President remains on very shaky ground politically and legally as he ignores the Supreme Court’s ruling and leaves hundreds of thousands of DACA-eligible immigrants in limbo.