Federal Government

Does DACA decision let Trump refuse to enforce US laws? Law prof who talked to White House thinks so

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President Donald Trump is taking an expansive view of presidential power that apparently relies on the views of a Bush administration lawyer who wrote the memo used to justify waterboarding.

Trump told Fox News on Sunday that he has the authority to implement new plans for health care and immigration as a result of the U.S. Supreme Court’s June decision on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA.

Trump’s view appears to embrace an argument by John Yoo, now a law professor at the University of California at Berkeley, report the Washington Post, the Guardian, Salon and Axios.

The DACA decision held that the Trump administration had the power to rescind President Barack Obama’s program that deferred deportation for some immigrants. But the U.S. Department of Homeland Security did not follow proper procedures in trying to do so.

According to two articles by Yoo, the DACA decision requires the administration to go through a “laborious” process to rescind Obama’s “executive fiats” that deferred deportation for some immigrants—even if the program’s benefits were illegal in the first place.

As a result of the decision, Yoo argued in Newsweek that “presidents can now stop enforcing laws they dislike, hand out permits or benefits that run contrary to acts of Congress and prevent their successors from repealing their policies for several years.”

Yoo argued in the National Review that the DACA decision “upends the text, structure and history of the Constitution.” But he nonetheless provides some examples of what presidents could do under the decision—and Trump is taking notice.

According to Yoo, Trump could now decline to enforce federal firearms laws and provide a “Trump permit” that allows people to carry guns openly, free of state and local regulations. Trump could also jump-start the economy by refusing to enforce tax laws and economic regulations.

Even if Trump knew that a decision lacks legal authority, he could get away with it for the length of his presidency, and his successor would have to keep enforcing Trump’s program for a year or two, Yoo said.

According to Axios, Yoo’s National Review article was “spotted atop Trump’s desk,” and Trump has mentioned the article to key advisers.

Yoo told Axios and the Guardian that he has spoken with White House officials about the implications of the DACA ruling.

“The Supreme Court has said President Obama could [choose not to] enforce immigration laws for about 2 million cases,” Yoo told the Guardian. “And why can’t the Trump administration do something similar with immigration—create its own … program, but it could do it in areas beyond that, like health care, tax policy, criminal justice, inner city policy. I talked to them a fair amount about cities, because of the disorder.”

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