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What Does The Trump Administration's Decision Mean For DACA Recipients?

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

So what is the Trump administration's move mean for recipients of DACA? Let's ask Ken Cuccinelli, the acting deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Mr. Cuccinelli, welcome back to the program.

KEN CUCCINELLI: Steve, good to be with you.

INSKEEP: You have a judgment from the United States Supreme Court saying the previous effort to get rid of DACA was, quote, "arbitrary and capricious." It's written by John Roberts, an appointee by George W. Bush to the U.S. Supreme Court. You have that judgment by the Supreme Court. You also have a judgment by a Maryland court, a lower court, saying that you should admit due applicants. Why not follow the law?

CUCCINELLI: Well, of course, we are following the law. That's a loaded question, Steve. The...

INSKEEP: Well, I'm just trusting that the judge is correct and the Supreme Court gets to make the judgment. Am I wrong about that, sir?

CUCCINELLI: So the Supreme Court said overwhelmingly that Trump administration can move forward to rescind DACA but that you haven't done it the right way, that...

INSKEEP: Yes.

CUCCINELLI: ...Procedurally, it was flawed. And the Maryland ruling was last Friday. And following that Maryland ruling, we took interim action. The secretary signed the memo to set in place a structure while a permanent resolution is determined based on - well, based on the Supreme Court ruling. But you know, let's be careful there. They said you didn't do it the right way. They didn't say what the right way was. And we're not dealing...

INSKEEP: But they said you needed to follow...

CUCCINELLI: ...With a program that (unintelligible)...

INSKEEP: If you'll...

CUCCINELLI: Yeah, they said...

INSKEEP: ...Forgive me, they said you needed to follow a proper process, Mr. Cuccinelli. And you're telling...

CUCCINELLI: Right - and they did not describe that process.

INSKEEP: ...Me that you're going ahead and doing that. It'll take time. Why...

CUCCINELLI: Yeah.

INSKEEP: Why make this interim effort that the Maryland federal judge would appear to disagree with?

CUCCINELLI: Well, the Maryland judge hasn't judged this action since it took place after that ruling. And we frequently undertake interim actions to give direction to our employees as to how to proceed in any particular area. If you'll remember the public charge regulation last summer - before that regulation, we were literally operating on an over 20-year-old interim guidance from the Clinton administration.

So this sort of - this sort of interim guidance, I'll call it, in the form of a memorandum yesterday is entirely common. It is entirely within the legal authority of the Department of Homeland Security to do that and to set a system in place. And the system does not allow new applicants. It does renew current applicants, which is the - what's been in place for years, though they will be renewed for one year, not two years. And that advance parole would not be granted. And the fourth item, which you and I have already been talking about, is the fact that a final resolution will be undertaken through a more lengthy process as anticipated by the Supreme Court ruling.

INSKEEP: Well, let me try to understand where you are going for a final resolution. The president has said that he would like the so-called DREAMers to stay. He ended the program in a way that the court overturned but said he would like Congress to replace it. Now the program is back in place and back enforced, or it's supposed to be anyway. Is the president's ultimate goal to end this program again?

CUCCINELLI: So two years ago, he was having rather public discussions with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer about a congressional resolution to this situation which, for a program like this that doesn't have any statutory basis, is the appropriate direction. And you'll recall that after a court ruling in that time, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer abandoned those discussions. The president did not abandon those discussions. And so his reference to a solution is ideally one that is bipartisan and accomplished through the legal means of passing a law that he signs. And that - that is certainly the preferred course. You've heard him restate that it's his preferred course. But Pelosi and Schumer have been unwilling to reengage in that discussion while the president has made it clear all along that he is willing to engage in that discussion.

INSKEEP: Well, if we talk about the DACA program, which is an executive action that President Obama took that the Supreme Court has upheld and that President Trump is obliged to continue or try to end through a proper process that's not arbitrary and capricious, is the president's goal to end that process, to end that program as soon as legally possible? Is that where you're heading?

CUCCINELLI: Well, we certainly want to end up within the boundaries of the law. And if you look all the way back to what President Obama's administration did, they said this is a temporary action until Congress can act. That was eight years ago, Steve. And Congress has...

INSKEEP: But this - but - because - forgive - I'm sorry.

CUCCINELLI: ...Talked about this a lot but not acted.

INSKEEP: I'm so sorry.

CUCCINELLI: We're not going to do the same thing again.

INSKEEP: I'm so sorry, Mr. Cuccinelli, to ask this a third time. But is the president's goal to end DACA as it now stands as soon as you can legally do so?

CUCCINELLI: So if we had a final point in place, we would have already undertake - under - enacted it. But we are going to seriously go through a more significant process along the lines that the Supreme Court spoke in expectation of and consider all of those factors in depth that they identified and to comply with that order so that, when we get to an endpoint and the decision is made, it has literally...

INSKEEP: Five seconds.

CUCCINELLI: ...Considered every aspect that the Supreme Court has addressed and instructed us to undertake.

INSKEEP: Mr. Cuccinelli of the Department of Homeland Security, thank you so much, sir.

CUCCINELLI: Steve, good to be with you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.