The U.S. Department of Justice says a judge's ruling protecting the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA, does not change the fact that the program is illegal.
On Tuesday, a federal judge blocked the Trump administration's decision to end the DACA program, ordering the government to accept renewal applications from current DACA members.
But Justice Dept. Spokesman Devin O'Malley said the program was still an unlawful circumvention of Congress by the Obama administration. He says the federal government is aiming to enforce the rule of law and wind down the program.
"DACA was implemented unilaterally after Congress declined to extend these benefits to this same group of illegal aliens," O'Malley told CBN News. "As such, it was an unlawful circumvention of Congress, and was susceptible to the same legal challenges that effectively ended DAPA. The Department of Homeland Security, therefore, acted within its lawful authority in deciding to wind down DACA in an orderly manner."
"Promoting and enforcing the rule of law is vital to protecting a nation, its borders, and its citizens," he continued. "The Justice Department will continue to vigorously defend this position and looks forward to vindicating its position in further litigation."
Just in to @CBNNews : The Justice Department promises “further litigation” on DACA after federal judge says @realDonaldTrump @WhiteHouse can’t get rid of program for now. Statement from @TheJusticeDept spokesman here: #daca pic.twitter.com/XPWbzST2zN
— David Brody (@TheBrodyFile) January 10, 2018
The battle continues to be fought both in the courts and in Congress. President Trump struck a softer tone talking about working with Congress on DACA, but he also said any deal needs to focus on national security.
"It should be a bill of love. But It also has to be a bill where we are able to secure our border," Trump said.
As I made very clear today, our country needs the security of the Wall on the Southern Border, which must be part of any DACA approval.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 10, 2018
The pressure is on for lawmakers to reach a deal on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, before the current program ends in March.
DACA provides protections for nearly 800,000 immigrants who were brought into the country illegally by their parents. In addition to protection, DACA recipients are also provided with Social Security numbers so they can go to school and work.
The program has been in the spotlight since September following an announcement from Attorney General Jeff Sessions that the Trump Administration will stop renewing DACA permits in hopes of pressuring Congress to pass a permanent legislative fix for the program.
Hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients - known as "dreamers" - are counting on Congress to get this done or their status in this country will be uncertain.
On Tuesday, the White House invited a bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers to sit down and discuss a path forward for the dreamers. In an unusual move, the White House allowed the press to film the discussion for over an hour.
"This was the most fascinating meeting I've been involved with in 20-plus years in politics," Sen. Lindsey Graham said in a statement following the meeting. "I very much appreciate President Trump's attitude, demeanor, and desire to get something done that will make our nation more secure – while being fair to the Dreamers."
Although a legislative solution for DACA recipients has strong bipartisan support, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle want to see other issues included in a deal – jeopardizing a DACA fix by the March deadline.
Democrats would like to see a DACA deal attached to the upcoming spending deal that must be reached by January 19th or the government shuts down.
President Trump would like to see funding for his promised border wall included in the DACA deal – a move Democrats do not support. He also wants to make sure any deal on DACA ends chain migration and the visa-lottery program.
I’ve been clear from the start: I will consider reasonable border security measures to pass the #DreamActNow. $18 billion for a wall we don’t need and the American people don’t want doesn’t fall into the “reasonable” category.
— Senator Dick Durbin (@SenatorDurbin) January 8, 2018
During the on-the-record, hour-long bipartisan discussion, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., suggested voting on a clean DACA bill followed by comprehensive immigration reform, which the president said he would agree to.
"I would agree to that," said Trump. "We're going to come out with DACA and then we can start immediately on phase two, which would be comprehensive immigration reform."
But his Republican colleagues House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California and Sen. David Perdue of Georgia, quickly reminded him to address border security and chain migration.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell echoed that statement Tuesday, saying, "There's bipartisan agreement to deal with the DACA question" but thinks there are legitimate concerns with the chain migration issue.
"There are a number of moving parts here that need to be dealt with," McConnell said. "My view is that DACA alone is not enough, that we need to achieve some changes in the legal immigration system that would improve the system along with it. The president has given us until March. I think we can probably meet that deadline, I hope so."
Following Tuesday's meeting, the White House released a statement saying during the closed door portion of the meeting "they reached an agreement to negotiate legislation that accomplished critically needed reforms in four high-priority areas: border security, chain migration, the visa lottery, and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy."
Both parties seem to be in agreement on one thing: it's time to get this done.
"We have something in common: We'd like to see this get done," said Trump.