Jose: Earlier this week, President Trump said a deal to protect Dreamers is dead. The DACA program was set to expire in March but court challenges have kept it alive. President Trump blamed Mexico for immigrants illegally crossing in to the United States and blamed Democrats for doing nothing to protect Dreamers. Joining me with an update on this is Larry Levi Sandigo, Advocacy Chair for the American Immigration Lawyers Association Arizona Chapter. Larry, welcome back to "Horizonte." What a difference a few days make. We thought we were kind of in a lull for DACA waiting for the court decisions we mentioned in the introduction and the president does his Easter Sunday tweet. Happy Easter. No deal on DACA. We have this crowd of immigrants coming from Central America through Mexico, I am going to put the military on the border. Wow. What is going on?
Larry Levi Sandigo: It is hard to say what he is thinking. You know? Several things come to mind immediately. One, it was President Trump who ended the DACA program in September not Democrats. The other thing is that --
Jose: On that point, his accusation is Democrats you had a chance to do a deal and you blew it.
Larry Levi Sandigo: Democrats did in one particular plan offer to fund the border wall but does it didn't include everything he wanted he threatened to veto it and wouldn't sign it. It is hard to say democrats have not been trying to push forward something to protect dreamers. I think another point worth mentioning is under the current rules you have to have been here before 2007 in order to qualify for DACA. So this idea that current migrants coming to the United States will take advantage of DACA is not based in fact.
Jose: Do you think he actually meant to tie that together this caravan of Hondurans coming through Mexico was he trying to tie that to DACA and why DACA is dead? Or was that just part of build my wall and I will send the military to the border because you didn't give me the money.
Larry Levi Sandigo: It’s hard to say exactly what he meant but I think there are going to be people who understand that those people qualify for DACA. So I think it is his responsibility to clarify that new migrants won’t be able to qualify for DACA and that he was upset about something else.
Jose: What can you tell us about that quote on quote caravan coming up through Mexico?
Larry Levi Sandigo: So it’s organized by a group organized by a group called Pueblos sin Fronteras. They are coming mostly from communities without borders mostly from war torn countries Honduras, but also some from El Salvador and Guatemala where there is extreme violence and poverty. It’s not anything new that we have Central America migrants coming up to United States to seek asylum. But this particular group it’s called a caravan. It’s not a group of cars but a large group of people it is larger than normal. There is different reports how far they’re going to travel together and whether they will seek permission to stay in Mexico or travel all the way up to the United States.
Jose: Travelling in groups itself a nothing new right. That has been a recent trend so they can protect themselves from the predators in Mexico who would rob and sexual assault and other things that occur when they travel in smaller groups.
Larry Levi Sandigo: Yes, people have always traveled in numbers.
Jose: So, the Mexican government; their response?
Larry Levi Sandigo: So they have said they will offer protection to these Central American migrants who qualify for it and made it clear they won’t do it in response to any outside pressure IE towards President Trump’s in response towards President Trump’s tweets. But it is hard to say what is actually happening on the ground and whether Mexico will honor its agreement under international law to provide refuge and to process all these applications in a humane way.
Jose: Does Mexico have any obligation to prevent those people from entering into the United States?
Larry Levi Sandigo: I am not exactly 100% sure if they have that obligation but they have the obligation to treat all migrants through their country in a humane way and offer refugee to those who qualify for it.
Jose: The president seems to be upping the stage that in light of all this NAFTA itself was at-risk in terms of where we would renew the agreement.
Larry Levi Sandigo: Yes, this isn't the first time he has said he thinks NAFTA is a bad deal for the United States but I am hopeful that governors such as governor Ducey will be able to show why NAFTA is good for our state of Arizona and good for our nation.
Jose: So the president during a press conference with representatives from the Baltic States starts talking about sending military to the border and later backed off saying the National Guard. What do you make of all that?
Larry Levi Sandigo: I think it is dangerous to militarize the border even more. I don't think it will help our relations with Mexico. It is unclear how long the troops will be here, what will they be doing exactly, how much this will cost us. There was an incident in the 1990s where U.S. marines were out in Texas and they killed a young American high school student because they thought he was someone that posed a danger. It is not a good idea for this militarization of our border.
Jose: To be fair to President Trump, he wouldn’t be the first president to put National Guard troops on the border.
Larry Levi Sandigo: He would not be. President George W Bush did it and president Obama.
Jose: The difference being what?
Larry Levi Sandigo: The difference is we’re able to those were thought out they were done in coordination with local law enforcement and border patrol.
Jose: More of a drug situation?
Larry Levi Sandigo: More of a drug situation more of a response to direct filings than lashing out a lashing out because something didn't go his way.
Jose: The sheriff of Santa Cruz County has said you’ve already got thousands of border patrol members on the border we don’t need you. There is some pushback and yet the governor came out and enthusiastically endorsed this.
Larry Levi Sandigo: Governor Ducey did say he supported the National Guard coming out here but I do think anything like this would require coordination with local law enforcement and to see how a temporary presence of the National Guard would fit into border patrol's larger and expended mission.
Jose: Let's talk about those court cases. There are two right now. Briefing is going on in front of the ninth circuit court of appeals and the second circuit. What’s going on there?
Larry Levi Sandigo: Just to clarify, there was a third case out of Maryland that ruled in favor of the administration saying they could do that.
Jose: And I forget what circuit is Maryland in? First circuit?
Larry Levi Sandigo: It is not first circuit. I don’t know on the top of my head. The one in California and the one in New York ruled that the administration could not just resend DACA that way. The night circuit agreed to hear the case and the whole argument is scheduled till May.
Jose: Where do we stand on the second --- case?
Larry Levi Sandigo: I don’t know
Jose: But briefing is well underway there. And the issues as I understand is a procedure issue. It is not so much whether the president could end DACA because President Obama started DACA but rather the way he did it?
Larry Levi Sandigo: So In the California case, what they said was that the plaintiffs, the people that brought the lawsuit, were likely to show that the decision to terminate the program was based on arbitrary capricious and other wise allowed under the law because it was a flawed legal premise to say President Obama could not have done it in the first place. So it is about what are the powers of the president to do this but also when they rescind the program do they have to give sound legal arguments for why they’re doing so.
Jose: So one last quick question Is DACA dead? Don't you expect further negotiations on at least a dream act?
Larry Levi Sandigo: I think so. I think that President Trump has been volatile on what he thinks about DACA. I think a couple weeks or months down the road we may hear of a solution being presented.
Jose: It may me just another negotiating ploy. We will find out soon enough. Thank you so much for joining us on "Horizonte."
Larry Levi Sandigo: Thank you, Jose.
President Donald Trump says the reason there is no deal on DACA is because of Democrats, then as a reaction to not getting the funding he wants for the wall he announced he will be deploying the National Guard to the border.
“It’s hard to say what he’s thinking,” Larry Levi Sandigo with American Immigration Lawyers Association says. “Several things come to mind. One, it was President Trump who ended the DACA program in September, not Democrats. Democrats did in one particular plan offer to fund the border wall, but because it didn’t include everything he wanted he threatened to veto and not sign it.”
Trump spoke about the caravans coming up through Mexico, which Sandigo explains further. The group called Communities Without Borders are coming up through Central America as they escape war torn countries like Honduras and Guatemala.
“The Mexican government has said they will offer protection to these Central American migrants who qualify for it,” Sandigo says. “They have also said they won’t do it due to any outside pressure, i.e. in response to President Trump’s tweets. It’s hard to say what’s actually happening on the ground whether Mexico will honor its agreement under international law to provide refuge and to process all these applications in a humane way.”
Sandigo says it would be dangerous to militarize the border. There are many unanswered questions like how long troops will be there for and what their exact purpose would be.
“It has been done in the past [by previous presidents], but it was more of a drug situation,” Sandigo says. “It was more of a response to direct violence rather than lashing out because something didn’t go his way.”