No matter where you stand politically, it’s clear that the border is not secure and America’s current immigration system is broken. For over 30 years, it has gone without significant updates, resulting in a system that encourages illegal immigration. This, coupled with the Biden administration, which refuses to enforce the existing laws on the books, has resulted in an unprecedented volume of families attempting the dangerous journey to cross our southern border. 

One of the most debated policies is the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a United States immigration policy established under President Obama. How much do you know about DACA? Let’s play “Two Truths and a Lie” to find out!

A. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is clearly constitutionally and statutorily derived.
B. DACA enrollees are often referred to as “Dreamers.”
C. Most Americans are in favor of tougher border security and a pathway to citizenship for longtime immigrants living in the country illegally.

A. Lie! The Supreme Court could decide the fate of DACA within the next two years. 

In 2012, President Obama directed the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to establish the DACA program. This initiative effectively provided a renewable, two-year reprieve from deportation for undocumented immigrants who met specific criteria: they had to have arrived in the United States before their 16th birthday, lived continuously in the U.S. since June 15, 2007, and been under the age of 31 as of June 2012. The program also granted work authorization and advance parole.

Advance parole allowed undocumented immigrants to apply for permission to leave the U.S. and return legally. This benefit quickly turned into a loophole, enabling DACA recipients to become lawful permanent residents. By leaving the country with advance parole and then being “admitted” back, they could apply for a green card, with DHS overlooking their initial illegal entry into the country.

In 2017, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Trump administration was ending the DACA policy. This led to several lawsuits to keep DACA in place. Federal judges ruled in favor of the lawsuits, stating that the Trump administration had violated federal procedures by not following a formal process to end DACA. In 2020, the Supreme Court upheld this decision in a 5-4 ruling, keeping DACA in place. However, the Court did not address whether DACA itself was legal.

At the same time, a group of attorneys general sued the U.S. government, arguing that DACA was illegal and harmed their states. In 2021, Judge Hanen of the Southern Texas District Court agreed with them, ruling that DACA was illegal because the Obama administration had not followed the formal rulemaking process. He also stated that DACA’s protections exceeded the government’s authority.

Judge Hanen’s 2021 decision stopped the government from processing new DACA applications but allowed current recipients to keep their protections and renew them while the Biden administration worked on a new formal rulemaking process for DACA.The Biden administration appealed Judge Hanen’s decision. In 2022, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with Judge Hanen that the original DACA policy was unlawful. However, they sent the case back to Judge Hanen to review the legality of the new DACA rule issued by the Biden administration. Despite this new rule, Judge Hanen ruled again that DACA is illegal. The Biden administration has appealed this decision and asked the Fifth Circuit to review it again.

B. Truth! DACA recipients are often referred to as “Dreamers” because of the DREAM Act, which stands for the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act. The DREAM Act was first introduced in Congress in 2001, by Senators Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Dick Durbin (D-Illinois). It aimed to provide a pathway to legal status for undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children, attended school, and met other requirements. Although the DREAM Act has been proposed multiple times, it has not been passed into law.

The term “Dreamers” became widely used to describe young undocumented immigrants who would have benefited from the DREAM Act, including those protected under DACA.

C. Truth! Today, most Americans (66%) appear to support creating a mechanism for immigrants brought into the country illegally as children. 

When President Trump was in office he said, “As President, my highest duty is to defend the American people and the Constitution of the United States of America. At the same time, I do not favor punishing children, most of whom are now adults, for the actions of their parents. But we must also recognize that we are a nation of opportunity because we are a nation of laws.” 

Fifty-five percent of Americans also support building the wall along the Mexican border and deploying U.S. troops to the southern border to enhance security. 

Bottom Line:

While we rightly do not hold children criminally accountable for their parents’ actions, it doesn’t mean these young individuals should bypass the legal immigration process and gain citizenship ahead of those who follow the law. Nor should we be codifying “pull” factors that encourage illegal immigration. The DACA program is one such factor.

It is the legislative branch, not the executive branch, which writes such laws and it is the bedrock of our Constitutional system. It’s time for a balanced, humane, and effective immigration reform that upholds our values and secures our future.