Remarks as prepared for delivery
Good morning. I am here today to announce that the program known as
DACA that was effectuated under the Obama Administration is being
The DACA program was implemented in 2012 and essentially provided a
legal status for recipients for a renewable two-year term, work
authorization and other benefits, including participation in the social
security program, to 800,000 mostly-adult illegal aliens.
This policy was implemented unilaterally to great controversy and
legal concern after Congress rejected legislative proposals to extend
similar benefits on numerous occasions to this same group of illegal
In other words, the executive branch, through DACA, deliberately
sought to achieve what the legislative branch specifically refused to
authorize on multiple occasions. Such an open-ended circumvention of
immigration laws was an unconstitutional exercise of authority by the
The effect of this unilateral executive amnesty, among other things,
contributed to a surge of unaccompanied minors on the southern border
that yielded terrible humanitarian consequences. It also denied jobs to
hundreds of thousands of Americans by allowing those same jobs to go to
We inherited from our Founders—and have advanced—an unsurpassed legal
heritage, which is the foundation of our freedom, safety, and
As the Attorney General, it is my duty to ensure that the laws of the
United States are enforced and that the Constitutional order is upheld.
No greater good can be done for the overall health and well-being of
our Republic, than preserving and strengthening the impartial rule of
law. Societies where the rule of law is treasured are societies that
tend to flourish and succeed.
Societies where the rule of law is subject to political whims and
personal biases tend to become societies afflicted by corruption,
poverty, and human suffering.
To have a lawful system of immigration that serves the national
interest, we cannot admit everyone who would like to come here. That is
an open border policy and the American people have rightly rejected it.
Therefore, the nation must set and enforce a limit on how many
immigrants we admit each year and that means all can not be accepted.
This does not mean they are bad people or that our nation disrespects
or demeans them in any way. It means we are properly enforcing our laws
as Congress has passed them.
It is with these principles and duties in mind, and in light of
imminent litigation, that we reviewed the Obama Administration’s DACA
Our collective wisdom is that the policy is vulnerable to the same
legal and constitutional challenges that the courts recognized with
respect to the DAPA program, which was enjoined on a nationwide basis in
a decision affirmed by the Fifth Circuit.
The Fifth Circuit specifically concluded that DACA had not been
implemented in a fashion that allowed sufficient discretion, and that
DAPA was “foreclosed by Congress’s careful plan.”
In other words, it was inconsistent with the Constitution’s
separation of powers. That decision was affirmed by the Supreme Court by
an equally divided vote.
If we were to keep the Obama Administration’s executive amnesty
policy, the likeliest outcome is that it would be enjoined just as was
DAPA. The Department of Justice has advised the President and the
Department of Homeland Security that DHS should begin an orderly, lawful
wind down, including the cancellation of the memo that authorized this
Acting Secretary Duke has chosen, appropriately, to initiate a wind
down process. This will enable DHS to conduct an orderly change and
fulfill the desire of this administration to create a time period for
Congress to act—should it so choose. We firmly believe this is the
Simply put, if we are to further our goal of strengthening the
constitutional order and the rule of law in America, the Department of
Justice cannot defend this type of overreach.
George Washington University Law School Professor Jonathan Turley in testimony before the House Judiciary Committee was clear about the enormous constitutional infirmities raised by these policies.
He said: “In ordering this blanket exception, President Obama was
nullifying part of a law that he simply disagreed with.….If a president
can claim sweeping discretion to suspend key federal laws, the entire
legislative process becomes little more than a pretense…The
circumvention of the legislative process not only undermines the
authority of this branch but destabilizes the tripartite system as a
Ending the previous Administration’s disrespect for the legislative
process is an important first step. All immigration policies should
serve the interests of the people of the United States—lawful immigrant
and native born alike.
Congress should carefully and thoughtfully pursue the types of
reforms that are right for the American people. Our nation is comprised
of good and decent people who want their government’s leaders to fulfill
their promises and advance an immigration policy that serves the
We are a people of compassion and we are a people of law. But there
is nothing compassionate about the failure to enforce immigration laws.
Enforcing the law saves lives, protects communities and taxpayers,
and prevents human suffering. Failure to enforce the laws in the past
has put our nation at risk of crime, violence and even terrorism.
The compassionate thing is to end the lawlessness, enforce our laws,
and, if Congress chooses to make changes to those laws, to do so through
the process set forth by our Founders in a way that advances the
interest of the nation.
That is what the President has promised to do and has delivered to the American people.
Under President Trump’s leadership, this administration has made
great progress in the last few months toward establishing a lawful and
constitutional immigration system. This makes us safer and more secure.
It will further economically the lives of millions who are
struggling. And it will enable our country to more effectively teach new
immigrants about our system of government and assimilate them to the
cultural understandings that support it.
The substantial progress in reducing illegal immigration at our
border seen in recent months is almost entirely the product of the
leadership of President Trump and his inspired federal immigration
officers. But the problem is not solved. And without more action, we
could see illegality rise again rather than be eliminated.
As a candidate, and now in office, President Trump has offered
specific ideas and legislative solutions that will protect American
workers, increase wages and salaries, defend our national security,
ensure the public safety, and increase the general well-being of the
He has worked closely with many members of Congress, including in the
introduction of the RAISE Act, which would produce enormous benefits
for our country. This is how our democratic process works.
There are many powerful interest groups in this country and every one
of them has a constitutional right to advocate their views and
represent whomever they choose.
But the Department of Justice does not represent any narrow interest
or any subset of the American people. We represent all of the American
people and protect the integrity of our Constitution. That is our
We at Department of Justice are proud and honored to work to advance
this vision for America and to do our best each day to ensure the safety
and security of the American people.