PHOENIX — Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich is siding with President Trump in his efforts to dissolve the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
In a new multi-state legal brief, Brnovich and his fellow Republican attorneys general from 11 other states contend that President Barack Obama never had the legal authority to create the program in 2012. DACA allows those who arrived in this country illegally as children to remain without fear of deportation under certain conditions.
Trump issued his own executive order shortly after being sworn in in 2017 to phase out the program.
That move has been blocked by lower courts. The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments next month.
Brnovich said in an interview that he believes Obama’s unilateral action was illegal. But he also said it isn’t necessary for the justices to reach the same conclusion in deciding whether the current president can abolish the program.
“It’s a matter of simple logic,” he said. “If President Obama can create a substantive program by himself using the executive power, then why can’t President Trump rescind that using executive action?”
At issue are the fates of about 670,000 DACA enrollees who are currently in the program, including approximately 25,000 in Arizona. If DACA ceases to exist, they would be subject to deportation.
But Brnovich said he believes if the Supreme Court sides with Trump it will be in the longer-term interest of DACA recipients.
He pointed out that even Obama called the program a temporary solution to provide some legal protections to those who effectively have known no other home than in the United States, while Congress comes up with a more permanent plan for immigration reform.
Congress hasn’t done so, however. Brnovich said he believes it will not — at least not as long as DACA exists.
“It’s taking the pressure off Congress to do something,” he said.
“DACA recipients are being used as political footballs by both parties,” Brnovich said. “There’s no incentive for politicians in Washington, D.C., to solve this problem because they’d rather have it around as a political issue.”
Brnovich said it’s not just about pressuring Democrats to support the things the president wants, like more funding for a border wall, in return for permanent protections for DACA recipients.
This isn’t the first time Brnovich claimed DACA is not legal absent congressional authorization. He advanced similar arguments last year to the U.S. Supreme Court as Arizona sought to defend its practice of denying driver’s licenses to those in the program.
The justices rejected the arguments without comment and the state now issues licenses to DACA recipients.