Published On: Sun, Oct 15th, 2017

Trump says he wants to extend DACA, but he already killed it

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WASHINGTON ― It might have seemed like there was a glimmer of hope for young undocumented immigrants on Thursday, when Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said President Donald Trump told him he would extend a deadline for Congress to act on deportation protections for so-called “Dreamers” if lawmakers failed to do so by March 5, 2018.

The only problem: The president can’t extend a program he’s already killed.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, rescinded by the Trump administration on Sept. 5, “is terminated in its entirety,” said Marshall Fitz, who works at Emerson Collective, an organization that advocates for immigration reform.

“The idea that you could somehow extend it is a figment of Lankford’s imagination,” Fitz told reporters on Friday. “The harm is happening today, and it will continue up through March 5 and beyond.”

When Trump rescinded DACA, he said he was giving Congress until March 5 to act ― implying that until that time, his decision wouldn’t affect anyone’s lives.

Trump did not immediately strip the nearly 700,000 current recipients of their two-year work permits or deportation protections, and he gave DACA recipients whose permits expired on or before March 5 one month to apply to renew.


But for many, the effect was immediate: Anyone whose DACA permit is set to expire on March 6 or later was barred from applying to renew it, and will now be subject to deportation as early as the day his or her protections lapse. People without DACA protections are barred from applying. And anyone who was eligible for renewal but did not apply in time has either already lost their protections, or will lose them between now and March 5 ― potentially affecting tens of thousands of people.



Trump cannot simply “extend” a deadline on DACA. People are slated to lose DACA protections on a rolling basis, and the program that would allow them to renew them has been rescinded. The only way for them to prolong their protections would be for Trump to restart a program that his administration has said is unconstitutional, and for the administration to begin accepting and approving applicants quickly enough to serve those set to lose their protections on March 6 or later.

In other words, the idea that everyone’s DACA protections will remain in place until March 5 is bogus. People are already being hurt by Trump’s decision, and will continue to be hurt well before ― and well after ― the deadline arrives.

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