President Donald Trump does not expect to extend the March fifth deadline for the expiration of work permits issued to beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly told reporters Tuesday.
Kelly said that he "doubt[s] very much" that Trump will extend the program, the Washington Post reported. He also said that he was "not so sure this president has the authority to extend" DACA work authorizations.
Kelly's doubt as to the president's power comes from the opinion, generally propounded by the administration, that the original DACA executive order was an overextension of presidential power. As Attorney General Jeff Sessions put it, the White House considers DACA to be "an unconstitutional exercise of authority" by President Barack Obama's administration.
As he rescinded the DACA executive order some seven months ago, President Trump urged Congress to produce a long-term, legislative solution for the 800,000 recipients who have benefited from DACA's protection from deportation. Since then, Congress has struggled to produce a fix, with the immigration stalemate a cause of the most recent government shutdown.
In the latest development on possible deals, Sens. John McCain (R., Ariz.) and Chris Coons (D., Del.) floated on Monday a Senate version of a House bill which would grant a path to citizenship to DACA recipients in exchange for tightened border security. That bill, however, conspicuously lacked a proposal for the construction of a physical border wall, resulting in a harsh denunciation of it by Trump on Twitter.
As Congress works to make a deal in advance of Thursday evening's looming budget shutdown deadline, DACA recipients find themselves further mired in uncertainty about their future residency and work status. In January, federal judge William Alsup enjoined the Trump administration's ending of DACA, granting a preliminary injunction in Regents of the University of California v. Department of Homeland Security.
As a result, Alsup ordered U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to begin accepting applications for DACA renewal; the agency began complying in mid-January. However, DACA recipients continue to suffer from uncertainty as to how long those renewals will last, as well as when they will be issued, including whether or not they will be issued after the March fifth deadline for work permit expiration passes.