DACA Upheld by Supreme Court

DACA Upheld by Supreme Court

Created: 18 June, 2020
Last update: 27 July, 2022

By Alberto Garcia          EN ESPAÑOL

The Supreme Court delivered another blow to the Trump Administration by deciding that the White House wrongfully ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program last year.

The DACA program was created by President Barack Obama through Executive Order in 2012 to allow undocumented immigrants who first came to the US when they were under the age of 16, had lived in the US since at least June of 2007, were enrolled in or already graduated high school, and had not been convicted of certain minor offenses. Applicants had to submit detailed personal information and pass background checks. Recipients who met the criteria became eligible for renewable, two-year grants of “deferred action” from deportation, and received work permits and Social Security numbers.

The program was halted by President Trump soon after he took office, with then-Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen saying DACA increased the risk of undermining public confidence in the rule of law. Several lawsuits challenged the termination, and President Trump quickly pushed for the Supreme Court to weigh in, assuming the Court would rule in this favor. The Supreme Court took up its review last and issued its decision this week.

“We do not decide whether DACA or its rescission are sound policies,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the majority opinion. “The wisdom of those decisions is none of our concern. We address only whether the agency complied with the procedural requirement that it provide a reasoned explanation for its action,” Roberts added.

In its ruling, the Court left an opening for the Trump Administration to make stronger arguments for canceling the program but also gave time for Congress to act to provide a permanent solution for immigrants in legal limbo.

One of the dissenting votes, Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s second appointee, wrote that “Congress has not yet enacted legislation to afford legal status to those immigrants” but added that “the only practical consequence of the Court’s decision to remand appears to be some delay” because the court’s decision “seems to allow the Department on remand to relabel and reiterate substance.”

The Court’s ruling included Chief Roberts and the four liberal members; Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan, Stephen Breyer, and Sonia Sotomayor. Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh opposed the decision.

It was the second time this week that the court issued rulings that included Roberts voting with the liberal Justices, including the landmark case that protects LGBTQ workers from employment discrimination, and the defense of California’s sanctuary law limiting police interaction with federal immigration agencies in deportation.

Nearly 700,000 immigrants qualified for DACA protections and continue to apply for renewals every two years, but no permanent solution to their legal status has passed Congress. Several bills have been introduced since 2001 to create a path to citizenship for immigrants in similar situations that came to the US as minors, but none have passed both houses of Congress.

The first bill, called the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act, known as the DREAM Act, was a bipartisan measure introduced by Democratic Senator Dick Durban and Republican Orrin Hatch, but failed to leave the Senate. Immigrants eligible for such deferred actions have been called ‘Dreamers’ after the Acts acronym. A current version, called the DREAM and Promise Act, introduced by California Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard, passed the House in June 2019 with only seven Republican votes and is now awaiting action in the Senate.

The plaintiffs in the case before the Court this week, including the University of California, several states, and DACA recipients argued that Trump violated the Administrative Procedure Act, a federal law that governs how agencies can establish regulations, when he attempted to arbitrarily end the program.

Even Apple’s CEO Tim Cook filed a brief in support of the DACA program, saying that Apple employs 443 DACA recipients who come from 25 different countries and four continents.

“We did not hire them out of kindness or charity,” Cook said. “We did it because Dreamers embody Apple’s innovative strategy” he said. “They come from diverse backgrounds and display a wide range of skills and experiences that equip them to tackle problems from different perspectives.”

President Trump tweeted his displeasure with the ruling soon after the announcement.

“These horrible & politically charged decisions coming out of the Supreme Court are shotgun blasts into the face of people that are proud to call themselves Republicans or Conservatives,” Trump tweeted.

Former President Barack Obama also reacted to the news of the Court’s decision defending his policy.

“We may look different and come from everywhere, but what makes us American are our shared ideals,” Obama wrote, adding that the DACA program was created eight years ago this week.