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Attorney General Sessions Delivers Remarks on DACA

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Note: A lot of comments are going to be made on the Administration's decision to rescind DACA. In fact, I am working on an article about it myself. Although you may disagree with what the Administration has done, it's important to take the time to learn the Administration's reasons for doing it. Consequently, I am posting the formal statement of those reasons. Nolan Rappaport

For additional information, See DHS Secretary's memo at

Attorney General Sessions Delivers Remarks on DACA

Tuesday, September 5, 2017
Remarks as prepared for delivery

Good morning. I am here today to announce that the program known as DACA that was effectuated under the Obama Administration is being rescinded.

The DACA program was implemented in 2012 and essentially provided a legal status for recipients for a renewable two-year term, work authorization and other benefits, including participation in the social security program, to 800,000 mostly-adult illegal aliens.

This policy was implemented unilaterally to great controversy and legal concern after Congress rejected legislative proposals to extend similar benefits on numerous occasions to this same group of illegal aliens.

In other words, the executive branch, through DACA, deliberately sought to achieve what the legislative branch specifically refused to authorize on multiple occasions. Such an open-ended circumvention of immigration laws was an unconstitutional exercise of authority by the Executive Branch.

The effect of this unilateral executive amnesty, among other things, contributed to a surge of unaccompanied minors on the southern border that yielded terrible humanitarian consequences. It also denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans by allowing those same jobs to go to illegal aliens.

We inherited from our Founders—and have advanced—an unsurpassed legal heritage, which is the foundation of our freedom, safety, and prosperity.

As the Attorney General, it is my duty to ensure that the laws of the United States are enforced and that the Constitutional order is upheld.

No greater good can be done for the overall health and well-being of our Republic, than preserving and strengthening the impartial rule of law. Societies where the rule of law is treasured are societies that tend to flourish and succeed.

Societies where the rule of law is subject to political whims and personal biases tend to become societies afflicted by corruption, poverty, and human suffering.

To have a lawful system of immigration that serves the national interest, we cannot admit everyone who would like to come here. That is an open border policy and the American people have rightly rejected it.

Therefore, the nation must set and enforce a limit on how many immigrants we admit each year and that means all cannot be accepted.

This does not mean they are bad people or that our nation disrespects or demeans them in any way. It means we are properly enforcing our laws as Congress has passed them.

It is with these principles and duties in mind, and in light of imminent litigation, that we reviewed the Obama Administration’s DACA policy.

Our collective wisdom is that the policy is vulnerable to the same legal and constitutional challenges that the courts recognized with respect to the DAPA program, which was enjoined on a nationwide basis in a decision affirmed by the Fifth Circuit.

The Fifth Circuit specifically concluded that DACA had not been implemented in a fashion that allowed sufficient discretion, and that DAPA was “foreclosed by Congress’s careful plan.”
In other words, it was inconsistent with the Constitution’s separation of powers. That decision was affirmed by the Supreme Court by an equally divided vote.

If we were to keep the Obama Administration’s executive amnesty policy, the likeliest outcome is that it would be enjoined just as was DAPA. The Department of Justice has advised the President and the Department of Homeland Security that DHS should begin an orderly, lawful wind down, including the cancellation of the memo that authorized this program.

Acting Secretary Duke has chosen, appropriately, to initiate a wind down process. This will enable DHS to conduct an orderly change and fulfill the desire of this administration to create a time period for Congress to act—should it so choose. We firmly believe this is the responsible path.

Simply put, if we are to further our goal of strengthening the constitutional order and the rule of law in America, the Department of Justice cannot defend this type of overreach.

George Washington University Law School Professor Jonathan Turley in testimony before the House Judiciary Committee was clear about the enormous constitutional infirmities raised by these policies.

He said: “In ordering this blanket exception, President Obama was nullifying part of a law that he simply disagreed with.….If a president can claim sweeping discretion to suspend key federal laws, the entire legislative process becomes little more than a pretense…The circumvention of the legislative process not only undermines the authority of this branch but destabilizes the tripartite system as a whole.”

Ending the previous Administration’s disrespect for the legislative process is an important first step. All immigration policies should serve the interests of the people of the United States—lawful immigrant and native born alike.

Congress should carefully and thoughtfully pursue the types of reforms that are right for the American people. Our nation is comprised of good and decent people who want their government’s leaders to fulfill their promises and advance an immigration policy that serves the national interest.

We are a people of compassion and we are a people of law. But there is nothing compassionate about the failure to enforce immigration laws.

Enforcing the law saves lives, protects communities and taxpayers, and prevents human suffering. Failure to enforce the laws in the past has put our nation at risk of crime, violence and even terrorism.

The compassionate thing is to end the lawlessness, enforce our laws, and, if Congress chooses to make changes to those laws, to do so through the process set forth by our Founders in a way that advances the interest of the nation.

That is what the President has promised to do and has delivered to the American people.
Under President Trump’s leadership, this administration has made great progress in the last few months toward establishing a lawful and constitutional immigration system. This makes us safer and more secure.

It will further economically the lives of millions who are struggling. And it will enable our country to more effectively teach new immigrants about our system of government and assimilate them to the cultural understandings that support it.

The substantial progress in reducing illegal immigration at our border seen in recent months is almost entirely the product of the leadership of President Trump and his inspired federal immigration officers. But the problem is not solved. And without more action, we could see illegality rise again rather than be eliminated.

As a candidate, and now in office, President Trump has offered specific ideas and legislative solutions that will protect American workers, increase wages and salaries, defend our national security, ensure the public safety, and increase the general well-being of the American people.
He has worked closely with many members of Congress, including in the introduction of the RAISE Act, which would produce enormous benefits for our country. This is how our democratic process works.

There are many powerful interest groups in this country and every one of them has a constitutional right to advocate their views and represent whomever they choose.

But the Department of Justice does not represent any narrow interest or any subset of the American people. We represent all of the American people and protect the integrity of our Constitution. That is our charge.

We at Department of Justice are proud and honored to work to advance this vision for America and to do our best each day to ensure the safety and security of the American people.

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Updated 09-07-2017 at 02:50 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

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  1. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    Update, September 7:

    All readers who are interested in the truth about DACA, as opposed to Sessions' recycling of alt-right nationalist falsehoods and propaganda about this now rescinded program, should turn to an excellent, September 6 fact checking article by Cristina Lopez-G. in Media Matters (also available at called:

    Jeff Sessions' Announcment to scrap DACA Was Packed with Racist, Right Wing Media Lies

    Despite the sensational-sounding title of the above piece, it is in fact a sober, well-documented explanation of four main points concerning Sessions' DACA speech:

    First, it was merely a rehashing of baseless anti-DACA talking points which right wing sites such as Stephen Bannon's Breitbart News and SPLC-designated anti-immigration hate groups have been peddling for a long time. ever since DACA was originally promulgated by President Obama.

    Second, the claim that DACA was an illegal "amnesty" (a pejorative term not found anywhere in the immigration laws but preferred by anti-immigrant hate groups) or a "magnet" for attracting illegal immigrants is nothing more than a malicious myth.

    Third the argument that DACA was an unconstitutional abuse of presidential power has been refuted by numerous reputable law professors. It is at the very least open to responsible legal argument on both sides, not a settled, open and shut proposition as Sessions falsely claimed in his speech.

    Last but not least, as the above Media Matters article also shows, there are no statistics or any other evidence to back up the claim that DREAMERS are taking jobs away from Americans - that claim is just one more item of the racist anti-immigrant propaganda which Sessions spouts so effortlessly.

    My revised earlier comment follows below:

    Sessions DACA announcement immediately recalls his praise of the openly racist whites only immigration act of 1924 in his January 2015 immigration "Handbook" for Congressional Republicans - the same law which Adolf Hitler praised in Mein Kampf nine decades earlier and which all historians of that period agree added to the Holocaust death toll by barring Jewish refugees who were trying to escape the Nazi gas chambers and ovens by seeking safety in the United States.

    Underneath all the empty attempts to put a pseudo- legal gloss on the president's appalling cruelty and inhumanity in smashing the hopes for a decent life in America of almost 800,000 young people who were brought to the US without any choice or fault of their own and whom even Sessions admitted pose no harm or danger whatsoever to this country, lies Sessions' message of hate against minority immigrants - the same message of hate which Congress adopted nine decades ago against not only Jewish immigrants, but Italian, East European, Middle Eastern, African and Asian ones in the Johnson-Reed immigration act which Sessions held forth as a model for America to follow in his above mentioned 2015 handbook.

    Sessions himself made this clear and let the cat out of the bag near the end of his September 5 remarks when he praised the RAISE act, whose methodology may differ somewhat from that of the 1924 law, but whose purpose is the same - to cut off non-white, non-European immigration to the United States.

    Having said the above, there is one important difference between the RAISE Act and the 1924 Act which Jeff Sessions and Adolf Hitler both thought so highly of. The 1924 law contained no restrictions against immigrants form Latin America and other parts of the "Western Hemisphere". In that sense, the RAISE Act, which is expressly targeted against Latino immigrants by eliminating key family quotas and requiring English proficiency for legal immigrants, is even more bigoted than the 1924 law.

    Certainly, the above does not mean that I have any intention of comparing Sessions with Hitler - that would be totally unustified.

    But Trump's heartless action, (even if partly concealed by some crocodile tears or well publicized "vacillation" or "soul searching" - not things that the president is well known for) against almost 800,000 vulnerable, harmless young immigrants by eliminating DACA may be the end of the road for them - but it is only the beginning of the Trump/Sessions larger agenda of ethnic cleansing of non-white immigrants in America - not only though mass deportation but by slamming shut the gates to legal immigration for most, if not all people who do not happen to stem from European ancestry.

    An incredibly sad day for America - and, in all likelihood, a sign of even worse ones to come as far as non-European immigrants and their families in America are concerned in Donald Trump's America.

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law
    Updated 09-07-2017 at 09:21 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
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