The 5-4 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to let young immigrants remain in this country – at least for the time being – received a largely universal response in Arizona: Congress needs to do something.
Both those who agreed with the decision to keep the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in place – and those who did not – acknowledge that it is far from a permanent solution.
And the question of what to do now – there are about 24,120 “dreamers” in Arizona – remains less than clear.
Gov. Doug Ducey would not weigh in on whether the justices got it right. But Ducey, a Republican, said this isn’t the end of the issue.
“He continues to believe that Congress needs to do its job to address this issue and ensure DACA kids do not have the rug pulled out from under them,” said gubernatorial press aide Patrick Ptak.
In previous remarks, however, Ducey put some conditions on all of that, saying a deal would require a compromise.
“I think it’s an opportunity for border security and immigration reform,” the governor said in 2019, saying he wanted to “start with border security.”
“The governor’s position has not changed,” Ptak said Thursday.
U.S. Sen. Martha McSally, the state’s Republican senator, expressed a similar viewpoint in a Twitter post.
“Today’s DACA ruling gives the White House and Congress the opportunity to do what is right and solve this issue with thoughtful legislation,” she said.
But that, McSally acknowledged, involves more than simply providing legal status for the “dreamers.” She said any package also means “enhancing border security, closing loopholes in our laws, and modernizing our legal immigration system.”
In some ways, her position is little different than that of U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, Arizona’s Democratic senator. In her own post, Sinema said she is looking to find a “bipartisan, common-sense solution to permanently protect dreamers, fix our broken immigration system, and secure our border to keep Arizona communities safe and secure.”
By contrast, Democratic U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva said he wants the Senate to approve the Dream and Promise Act that already has cleared the House. It would provide “conditional permanent resident” status for up to 10 years for DACA recipients, with a possible path to becoming lawful permanent residents if they meet certain conditions, such as serving for two years in the military, completing some work toward a college degree or meeting certain work requirements.
Fellow Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick issued a statement telling dreamers, “I stand with you, and I promise to keep fighting for you.”
U.S. Rep.Andy Biggs, a Republican, had a different take, saying he was “extremely disappointed” not only in the decision but with Chief Justice John Roberts “for continuing to side with our liberal justices and against the rule of law.”
“Our nation is a nation of laws, and those laws must be upheld in order to maintain order throughout our union,” Biggs said in a prepared statement. “DACA obliterates that order and serves to incentivize more illegal immigrant to cross into our nation with hopes of receiving some reprieve from the federal government.”
Biggs is not alone in that sentiment. The ruling did not go the way that Attorney General Mark Brnovich, also a Republican, had hoped. He contended that former President Barack Obama never had the legal authority to create the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals programs in 2012. And that, he argued in a 2019 legal brief with 11 other Republican attorneys general, meant President Donald Trump is free to abolish it.
Brnovich told Capitol Media Services in 2019 he believes that Obama’s unilateral action was illegal. But he also said it isn’t necessary for the justices to reach the same conclusion in deciding whether the current president can abolish the program.
“It’s a matter of simple logic,” he said. “If President Obama can create a substantive program by himself using the executive power, then why can’t President Trump rescind that using executive action?”
On Thursday, Brnovich was sticking with his legal position.
“While the Supreme Court says DACA can remain in place for now, the temporary program has never provided a lasting solution,” he said in a prepared statement. “The rule of law is about creating legal certainty and only Congress can accomplish immigration reform,” the attorney general continued. “It is my hope Congress can finally set aside political games and fix our system.”
Members of the Arizona Latino Legislative Caucus agreed at least on that last point.
“While we rejoice today, tomorrow we must continue the fight for a permanent and long-term solution for our undocumented community,” the group said in a prepared statement.
“This administration will continue its hateful attacks on our Latinx and undocumented community,” the group continued. “Today’s ruling is a temporary win for America’s dreamers, and we know that until our nation institutes comprehensive immigration reform, we will continually be on guard.”
Also seeking a more permanent solution is the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which has continually backed the DACA recipients, with organization President Glenn Hamer calling them “our friends, neighbors, and coworkers, and who are contributing to the richness of the United States.”
“But this country cannot subject major portions of immigration policy to the whims of one administration to the next,” Hamer said in his statement. “Congress must act to deliver a durable solution rooted in law,” one he added should include a path to eventual citizenship.