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Statement from Acting Secretary Duke on the Rescission Of Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

Release Date: 
September 5, 2017

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010

WASHINGTON - This Administration’s decision to terminate DACA was not taken lightly.  The Department of Justice has carefully evaluated the program’s Constitutionality and determined it conflicts with our existing immigration laws.  Given the Supreme Court’s decision on DAPA, they do not believe DACA is legally viable, and thus the program should be ended.   

As a result of recent litigation, we were faced with two options: wind the program down in an orderly fashion that protects beneficiaries in the near-term while working with Congress to pass legislation; or allow the judiciary to potentially shut the program down completely and immediately.  The Administration chose the least disruptive option. 

I am very aware of the consequences of this action, and I sympathize with the DACA recipients whose futures may now be less certain.  But I am also frustrated on their behalf.  DACA was never more than deferred action—a bureaucratic delay—that never promised the rights of citizenship or legal status in this country.  The program did not grant recipients a future, it was instead only a temporary delay until a day of likely expiration. And for that reason, DACA was fundamentally a lie.    

I believe President Obama had genuine intentions for DACA, and was clearly frustrated by his inability to maneuver through the legislative process.  But a Secretarial memo – even if intended to be temporary - is not a substitute for a law passed by Congress and signed by the President.

For several years before becoming the Acting Secretary, I taught civics to people who were going through the naturalization process.  I taught them the principles of American democracy, like the three branches of government, the separation of powers, and how our system of checks and balances works. 

I taught them that the Constitution was the supreme law of the land.  

And I taught them the rule of law: How everyone in our country must follow the law, no matter who they are. 

The DACA program violates those basic civics lessons that are fundamental to our country and our citizens.

It is a dangerous precedent to systematically ignore the law, regardless of one’s intent or purpose.  It is also dangerous to encourage and reward illegal immigration. 

We must find a better way.  And we must do so within the Constitution of the United States. 

If our current laws do not reflect our country’s values, then I urge Congress to use its Constitutional authority to write and pass legislation that does.  I believe the President shares my confidence in the Congress. 

DHS would be glad to provide Congress with data and information to help them consider the situation, and find a legislative solution.  There is much wrong with our current immigration system—not just DACA—and this is an opportunity to make it better, fairer, and more beneficial for the nation.

What this decision makes clear is that we are overdue for real answers.  No more stopgap measures, no more temporary options, and no more kicking the tough decisions down the road in the hope they become too painful to ignore for someone else. 

We need to do this the right way. And we need to do this now.

Last Published Date: September 5, 2017
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