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Trump Administration Defies Court, Won't Accept New DACA Applications

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The Trump administration will stop accepting new applications for a program that protects immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children. As NPR's John Burnett reports, the administration is defying a federal court that said the program should be fully restored.

JOHN BURNETT, BYLINE: When the Supreme Court ruled last month that the Trump administration had illegally canceled the Obama-era program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, it left open the door for the president to circle back and try to kill it again. On Tuesday, the administration announced it would thoroughly reconsider DACA, and in the meantime, the government would not accept any new applications from young people who want to qualify, and it would only renew current DACA recipients for one year, down from two years. Though Tuesday's announcement angered immigrant advocates, it stops short of cancelling the program outright, as Trump did earlier in his presidency. Here he is at an afternoon press conference.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We are going to make DACA happy and the DACA people and representatives happy, and we're also going to end up with a fantastic merit-based immigration system.

BURNETT: The move to reject new applicants goes against a Maryland federal judge who, earlier this month, told the White House it had to accept them. The program gives some 640,000 immigrants who were brought here by their parents illegally as kids permission to work, and it shields them from deportation. Some observers believe the president, aware of the program's popularity among Democrats and Republicans, is careful not to attack the so-called DREAMers. Krish O'Mara Vignarajah is president of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service.

KRISH O'MARA VIGNARAJAH: I do think, in punting on this, there is some recognition that it is not just the wrong thing to do but, politically, stupid for them to take even further action against DREAMers.

BURNETT: The White House did not say whether it will take further action on DACA before or after the November election.

John Burnett, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

As NPR's Southwest correspondent based in Austin, Texas, John Burnett covers immigration, border affairs, Texas news and other national assignments. In 2018, 2019 and again in 2020, he won national Edward R. Murrow Awards from the Radio-Television News Directors Association for continuing coverage of the immigration beat. In 2020, Burnett along with other NPR journalists, were finalists for a duPont-Columbia Award for their coverage of the Trump Administration's Remain in Mexico program. In December 2018, Burnett was invited to participate in a workshop on Refugees, Immigration and Border Security in Western Europe, sponsored by the RIAS Berlin Commission.
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