The Trump administration is reviving its efforts to end, or at least significantly scale back, a program that shields young undocumented immigrants from deportation after losing the first round in the Supreme Court.
On Tuesday, a senior administration official said the government will not be accepting new applications while it conducts a review of the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The move is expected to spur a new round of legal challenges, with California Attorney General Xavier Becerra releasing a statement saying he will be ready.
"The courts have spoken: DACA is in full effect, including for new applications," Becerra said. "We are ready if the Trump Administration tries to block or dismantle DACA. We know what it takes to defend DACA — we've done it before and we'll do it again if necessary."
Immigrants who have already had deportation protection and a work permit through DACA will be allowed to renew their status, but only for a year, a senior administration official said. Previously renewals lasted two years.
In June, the Supreme Court ruled that the Trump administration violated federal law when it rescinded DACA. The court's decision left open the possibility that the administration could rescind DACA — just that the process by which it did so in this case was unlawful.
A senior administration official told reporters on a phone call Tuesday that the White House would be conducting a review of DACA but didn't say how long it would last. In the meantime, it will be renewing applications from previous DACA recipients, but not new ones.
Ever since the Supreme Court's ruling, immigrants and advocates had been pushing the Trump administration to process new applications. On July 17, a Maryland judge ordered the administration to restore DACA to its original form before the White House announced it was ending the program in September 2017.
The senior official said Maryland District Judge Paul Grimm's order to restore DACA didn't apply because the White House issued a memo Tuesday with new guidance that rescinds previous memos by former administration officials on the program.
"Under the judge's order, absent any intervening action from this administration, we would be back to a pre-2017 context. This memo is an intervening action that lays out how the administration will proceed," the senior administration official said. "We are not going back to the [pre–September 2017] status quo."
The memo, signed by Chad Wolf, acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, said that since the Supreme Court's ruling in June, the agency has delayed acting on new DACA applications "in anticipation of potential policy changes."
The administration said the government would reject all advance parole applications absent any "extenuating circumstances." Advance parole had previously allowed DACA recipients to travel abroad for humanitarian, educational, and employment reasons.
There are about 66,000 undocumented immigrants who would've become eligible to apply for DACA if the administration had continued accepting new applications, according to the Migration Policy Institute, a Washington, DC-based think tank.