The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the Trump administration could not immediately proceed with its plan to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). DACA, an Obama-era program, protects 700,000 young immigrants in the U.S. from deportation.
These young immigrants, referred to as Dreamers, came without documentation under their parents’ care. The program allows these people access to a renewable two-year period deferred action from deportation and eligibility for a work permit in the U.S. The Supreme Court’s ruling is a blow to one of President Trump’s campaign promises: to “immediately terminate” Obama’s executive order, which he has said is illegal.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts wrote the majority opinion, being the one conservative vote that joined the four more liberal justices to tip the scale in favor of DACA.
“We do not decide whether DACA or its rescission are sound policies,” Roberts wrote in the court’s opinion. “We address only whether the agency complied with the procedural requirement that it provide a reasoned explanation for its action.”
In September 2017, Trump announced he’d be winding down the DACA program because Obama’s decision to create it was beyond the legal power a president should have. Even among his aides, Trump’s decision to end the program was controversial, according to the New York Times.
In the Court’s opinion, Roberts stated that Trump’s reason for ending the program was not sufficient, but that if his administration could provide better reasons for ending it, he may try again.
This decision is the second formative decision the Court made this week. On Monday, Roberts was also in the majority in a decision that ruled transgender and homosexual individuals are protected from workplace discrimination on the basis of sex as written in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
In the dissent, the three remaining conservative justices Samuel A. Alito, Clarence Thomas and Neil M. Gorsuch said the majority’s decision was driven by sympathy and political opinions rather than interpretation of the law. The dissenting justices also argued that the majority’s decision would set a precedent that would involve the Supreme Court in political battles.
“Today’s decision must be recognized for what it is: an effort to avoid a politically controversial but legally correct decision,” Thomas, who wrote the dissent, said. “The court could have made clear that the solution respondents seek must come from the legislative branch. In doing so, it has given the green light for future political battles to be fought in this court rather than where they rightfully belong — the political branches.”
This decision would mean in order to move forward with ending DACA, the Trump administration would have to defer to a lower court and provide more robust reasons for ending the program. That process alone would take months, delaying any real moves until after the November 2020 election. If the administration were able to move forward with ending DACA, it would have planned to locate 700,000 Dreamers and deport them to countries they may not even remember.
Trump immediately took to Twitter to condemn the decision.
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. We need more Justices or we will lose our 2nd. Amendment & everything else. Vote Trump 2020!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 18, 2020
However, in the past, even his own words about DACA have been inconsistent.
In 2017, he posted on Twitter, “Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military? Really!…..”
Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military? Really!…..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 14, 2017
But last year, in another Twitter post, he stated that many Dreamers are no longer young and a “far from angels.”
“Some are very tough, hardened criminals,” he said.
Many of the people in DACA, no longer very young, are far from “angels.” Some are very tough, hardened criminals. President Obama said he had no legal right to sign order, but would anyway. If Supreme Court remedies with overturn, a deal will be made with Dems for them to stay!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 12, 2019
Yet, the program’s requirements are designed to prevent young people with criminal records from enjoying the same protections as other Dreamers. To be eligible, applicants need to have not committed any serious crimes. They also have to have arrived in the U.S. before they were 16 and be no older than 30, lived in the country for a minimum of five years and prove they graduated from high school, had G.E.D.s or were honorably discharged as veterans.
Dreamers and other supporters of DACA celebrated outside of the Supreme Court Thursday
United We Dream, the largest immigrant youth-led community in the country celebrated the decision in a press release, but also reminded supporters that the fight did not end there.
“This decision does not mean the Trump administration will not attempt to rescind the program again, and we need all our state and local elected officials to take action to protect DACA recipients in their communities. The fight will continue for a permanent solution that helps people without hurting people because home is here!” Arisaid Gonzalez Porras, DACA recipient and Georgetown University Student said in the release.