Dear Acting Secretary Wolf:
We are gravely concerned that the Trump Administration is preparing mass deportations of Dreamers, young immigrants who grew up in the United States and know no other home. We write to urgently seek more information about the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) plans for removing DACA recipients.
As you know, the Supreme Court is currently considering the legality of President Trump's cruel repeal of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), with a decision expected by June. During oral argument on November 12, 2019, Chief Justice Roberts seemingly minimized the significance of the outcome, saying: "Both [the Obama and Trump] administrations have said they're not going to deport the people."
Contrary to the Chief Justice's expectations, it appears that the Trump Administration is planning to deport DACA recipients whose deportation cases had been administratively closed. Many Dreamers have reported receiving notice that their deportation cases have recently been reopened. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued a statement confirming that DACA deportation cases that had been administratively closed will be reopened and that this "is occurring nationwide and not isolated to a particular state or region." On January 23, Acting ICE Director Matthew Albence replied to a question about these actions, saying that if "DACA is done away with by the Supreme Court, we can actually effectuate those removal orders." Similarly, in response to questioning from Senator Kamala D. Harris at a Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on March 4, you said that DHS would deport these DACA recipients, testifying: "So when we get final orders of removal, we're going to effectuate those."
Eight years ago, following bipartisan requests from Congress, President Obama used his legal authority to establish DACA. DACA provides temporary protection from deportation to Dreamers on an individualized basis if they register with the government, pay a fee, and pass criminal and national security background checks. DACA is a lawful exercise of the President's authority to establish deportation priorities. Past administrations--Democratic and Republican--have stopped deportations of low-priority cases and courts have long recognized this authority.
More than 800,000 Dreamers have come forward and received DACA. DACA has unleashed the full potential of Dreamers, who are contributing to our country as soldiers, nurses, teachers, and small business owners, and in many other ways. Now, as a result of President Trump's decision, these Dreamers face losing their authorization to work and being deported to countries they barely remember. When he announced the repeal of DACA, President Trump called on Congress to "legalize DACA," but since then, he has rejected numerous bipartisan deals to protect Dreamers.
In response to the crisis that President Trump created, the House of Representatives passed the American Dream and Promise Act on a strong bipartisan vote of 237-187. The American Dream and Promise Act is now pending in the Senate, as is the bipartisan Dream Act, and it is up to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell whether to give Dreamers a path to citizenship by calling this legislation for a vote.
Only Congress can provide a permanent solution for Dreamers, but if the Supreme Court permits President Trump's DACA repeal to stand, the fate of the Dreamers will be in your hands. It will be up to you whether to use DHS's limited resources to deport these young immigrants who have benefitted America in countless ways through their talents, hard work, and service.
In light of the clear statements above that the Trump Administration is preparing to deport DACA recipients whose deportation cases had been administratively closed, we request that you respond to the following questions as soon as possible, and no later than April 9, 2020:
1. How many DACA recipients' cases have been administratively closed since August 15, 2012?
2. How many of these cases of DACA recipients that had been administratively closed have subsequently been reopened or re-calendared since January 20, 2017?
3. How many current or former DACA recipients have been ordered removed since January 20, 2017?
4. How many current or former DACA recipients have been removed since January 20, 2017?
5. Since January 20, 2017, how many DACA recipients' and DACA applicants' information has been provided to ICE?
6. During the March 4 hearing, you committed to provide plans developed by ICE with regard to DACA recipients that take into account the various potential decisions the Supreme Court may issue. Please include that information in your response.
Thank you for your time and consideration. We look forward to your prompt response.