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Acting ICE Director Albence Commits to Deporting DACA Recipients, Highlighting the Real Stakes of the Pending Supreme Court Case

The head of ICE says he will deport DREAMers if the Supreme Court ends DACA” by Ian Millhiser, Vox, January 25, 2020

On November 12, 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the Trump administration’s decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. During the hearing, Chief Justice John Roberts cited his understanding that the Trump administration would not deport DACA recipients and suggested that the program is ultimately about little more than granting work authorizations.

But last week, acting U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director Matthew Albence announced that the agency would, in fact, deport DACA recipients if the Supreme Court allowed the Trump administration to terminate the program. In anticipation of such a decision, ICE has begun asking immigration courts to reopen administratively closed deportation cases against DACA recipients to secure final orders of removal.

Albence’s statement should disabuse the chief justice of any misimpression about what hangs in the balance with the court’s upcoming decision. More than 250,000 U.S.-citizen children have a DACA-recipient parent, and deporting these parents would tear families apart.

In a system that adheres to the rule of law, court decisions are made based on the law and facts as they are, not as leaders wish they would be as a matter of convenience. Hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients—and many more people in their families and communities—have relied on this program and the protections it provides: chiefly, the protection against deportation. The Supreme Court can no longer pretend to be ignorant about the consequences of its decision.

Moreover, a system that values the rule of law does not, by its very actions, undermine public faith in the system itself. Yet by moving forward with plans to ignore the significant contributions that DACA recipients make to society and to deport them to countries that many of them have never known, the Trump administration is doing just that.

As the country awaits a decision by the court, one thing is clear: DACA renewals remain open, and recipients can and should apply to renew their protections.

For more on how the Trump administration’s attacks on DACA prevent the United States from building a fair and workable immigration system, see CAP’s report: “Restoring the Rule of Law Through a Fair, Humane, and Workable Immigration System.”