weather icon Clear

Program to protect young immigrants left intact — for now

Updated June 16, 2017 - 5:14 pm

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration reversed one Obama-era immigration policy and left another intact — for now, at least.

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly announced the actions in a memorandum that said he was rescinding the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, known as DAPA, rather than try to defend the Obama administration policy in court.

But Kelly said he would leave in effect the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, known as the DACA program, which provides children who were brought into the United States illegally with protection from deportation.

However, administration officials said Friday afternoon that no final decision on DACA had been made. “The future of the DACA program continues to be under review with the administration,” Jonathan Hoffman, an assistant secretary for public affairs at Homeland Security, said in a statement.

The actions both gave relief and created frustration Friday for interested parties in Southwest cities like Las Vegas with large Latino populations.

“It’s unfortunate,” Rep. Ruben Kihuen, D-Nev., a Mexican-born immigrant who legally immigrated to the United States with his parents in the 1980s, said of the decision to cancel DAPA.

“It’s just Band-Aids on broken legs,” Kihuen said.

The DAPA policy would have provided protections from deportation for undocumented immigrants with a U.S.-born child or one with permanent resident status.

Challenge from states

That DAPA policy in 2014 was immediately challenged by 26 states, including Nevada, in the U.S. Southern District of Texas.

Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt called the Obama policies unconstitutional when the state joined the multi-state challenge.

A federal judge in South Texas issued an injunction against the policy, which was upheld by the New Orleans-based 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who filed the lawsuit that halted the 2014 memo, applauded the decision to cancel DAPA. “I am proud to have led a 26-state coalition that went all the way to the Supreme Court to block this unlawful edict.”

President Donald Trump, as a candidate, called for elimination of the two Obama administration immigration policies, which he said defied the Constitution and federal law. But Trump, after the election, said he favored the policy that protected children who were brought here illegally from being deported.

The Trump administration has stepped up deportations of undocumented immigrants and the president has called for a wall to be built across the 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border to stop illegal immigration.

Nevada has roughly 210,000 undocumented immigrants, according to the Pew Hispanic Center, with about 20,000 children and teenagers eligible for DACA protections. Pro-immigration advocates estimate another 30,000 adults would have been eligible for DAPA.

Federal immigration policy resonates in Southwest cities, like Las Vegas, where 30 percent of the population, or about 627,000 people, are Latino. Of those, 76 percent are of Mexican descent, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.

Divisive issue

Still, immigration remains a politically divisive issue nationally.

A bipartisan effort to craft a comprehensive immigration reform bill in 2013, which included a path to citizenship, was passed in the Senate but died in the House for lack of action.

Democrats and Republicans have reintroduced a bill that would extend protections to children brought here illegally, the so-called “Dreamers” who are going to school or serving in the military.

“I believe that our immigration system is fundamentally broken and in need of legislative reforms,” said Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., who voted for the 2013 bill and co-sponsored legislation that provides DACA-eligible people with protections and employment authorization.

But the decision by the Trump administration on DAPA leaves the parents of many of those people in fear of deportation.

“Without DAPA, U.S. citizens will continue to face the very real and disturbing possibility of having their whole families torn away from them,” said Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev.

She called the Trump repeal of DAPA a “brazen lack of empathy for immigrant communities.”

Rep. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., said DAPA was designed to bring undocumented immigrants out of the shadows and allow them to contribute to their local communities and pay taxes. She called the administration decision “another move in the wrong direction.”

Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, praised Kelly’s rescission of the 2014 initiative but said it also “calls into question the legitimacy of DACA as well.”

Kihuen, who was naturalized under President Ronald Reagan’s policies, noted that the eventual fate of the DACA policy is still in doubt.

“It leaves a lot of uncertainties,” Kihuen said. “It’s unfortunate that now the parents of a lot of these Dreamers are going to live in fear.”

Contact Gary Martin at 202-662-7390 or gmartin@reviewjournal.com. Follow @garymartindc on Twitter. The Associated Press and Bloomberg News contributed to this report.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
2020 candidates rally in Southern Nevada ahead of caucus - VIDEO
2020 candidates Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders held rallies all over Southern Nevada on Saturday ahead of the Democratic caucus. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
First day of early voting - VIDEO
Nevada Democrats turned out in force on Saturday for the first day of early voting in the Democratic presidential caucuses.
Biden and Sully Sullenberger speak in Henderson - VIDEO
Presidential candidate Joe Biden and famed pilot Sully Sullenberger spoke at Sun City MacDonald Ranch to get out the vote for early voting for the Nevada caucus. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada Poll: Bernie Sanders leads Democratic presidential candidates - VIDEO
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders leads the presidential field by a solid margin among likely Democratic caucus-goers heading into Nevada’s four-day early voting period, with with 25 percent of respondents expressing support. (Renee Summerour/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada Poll: caucus vs. primary - VIDEO
A new Nevada Poll finds two-thirds of likely Democratic caucus-goers surveyed in a Review-Journal poll say they’d like to see Nevada replace its caucuses with a secret-ballot primary election to determine support for a presidential nominee. (Renee Summerour/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Caucus events Leading up to Caucus Day 2020 - VIDEOl
As presidential candidates make their way to Las Vegas, here's a look at events, dates and times for the days leading up to Nevada's Caucus Day 2020 on Feb. 22. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Election 2020: Nevada Caucus and Early Voting - Video
AARP's Nevada Caucus discussion with Steve Sebelius about the Nevada Caucus and early voting.
Caucus 101: Early voting in the Nevada Democratic caucus - VIDEO
The who, what, when, where and hows of early voting before and on caucus day in Nevada. (Renee Summerour and Bizuayehu Tesfaye /Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Election 2020: Nevada Caucus - Video
AARP's Nevada Caucus Discussion with Steve Sebelius. Join us as we discuss the Nevada Caucus process.
Dina Titus speaks on Biden and Nevada's importance - VIDEO
Nevada Congresswoman Dina Titus sat down with political reporter Rory Appleton to discuss Joe Biden and Nevada's place in the 2020 election.
Las Vegas ready to enforce homeless camping ban - VIDEO
Las Vegas police will begin enforcing a controversial camping ban on city streets on Saturday, but officials say they expect to impose the penalties available under the new ordinance only in rare instances. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada Caucus 101: How to caucus - VIDEO
How does the caucus work in Nevada? Shelby Wiltz, the caucus director for the Nevada State Democratic party takes us through the process. (Renee Summerour and James Schaeffer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trump administration OKs new water rule - VIDEO
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler signed a new rule Thursday replacing a 2015 definition of “navigable waters” created in the Obama administration that farmers, developers and others found overly restrictive. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Yvanna Cancela Speaks on Supporting Biden - Video
The RJ Politics podcast crew sits down with Nevada State Senator Yvanna Cancela to discuss why she is supporting former Vice President Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential race.
RJ Politics Podcast with Deval Patrick - VIDEO
2020 Presidential Candidate Deval Patrick joins hosts Rory Appleton and Steve Sebelius on the RJ Politics Podcast.
Tom Steyer on Donald Trump and the economy - Video
Tom Steyer joins the RJ Politics podcast to talk about his campaign presence in Nevada and how he plans to take Trump on when talking about the economy. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas City Council Votes On Homeless Ordinance - Video
The Las Vegas City Council on Wednesday will discuss expanding on a controversial camping and sleeping ban aimed at deterring the homeless from bivouacking on city streets to include hours when public sidewalks are being cleaned.
Biden meets with Vegas Latino community - VIDEO
Presidential candidate Joe Biden met with members of the Latino community at Rancho High School. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Henderson, other Nevada cities consent to refugee resettlement - VIDEO
Henderson will continue to welcome refugees for resettlement, according to a December letter from Mayor Debra March. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pete Buttigieg Speaks At Black Empowerment Event - Video
Pete Buttigieg speaks at a black empowerment event to talk about his Douglass plan.
Joe Biden at the national hospitality workers union.
Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden speaks to members of the national hospitality workers union during UNITE HERE's town hall on Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019 at Culinary Union Hall in Las Vegas. @bizutesfaye
Elizabeth Warren at Culinary Union
Elizabeth Warren speaks at a Culinary Union town hall in Las Vegas on Dec. 9, 2019.
Secretary of Education visits Henderson school
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos visited students at Pinecrest Academy in Henderson to talk about college planning on Dec. 4, 2019. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trump dropped from Terry Fator’s show on Las Vegas Strip - VIDEO
Fator has edited out one prominent figure: President Donald Trump, a focal point of Fator’s regular stage show and also Christmas show over the past 3½ years. The Trump puppet, with his pop-up hairpiece, has been sidelined from both shows until further notice. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada caucuses test candidates with Latino voters

The Nevada caucuses pose an important test for former Vice President Joe Biden, Democratic frontrunner Bernie Sanders and other presidential hopefuls with Latinos, who make up a third of the state’s population.

Paper option helps speed Nevada caucus early voting on Day 2

A Democratic party spokesperson said the party believed early voting went well overall and that having a paper backup option used by some precincts to speed up the process was a planned contingency.

Trump making pit stop at Daytona 500 before heading West

Trump will be only the second president to attend the Daytona 500 after President George W. Bush, who also appeared at the race during his reelection year.

Democratic presidential candidates speak at Las Vegas gala

Former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, businessman Tom Steyer and former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg spoke during the Clark County Democrats gala at the Tropicana in Las Vegas on Saturday night.