Supreme Court Halts, For Now, Donald Trump Administration’s Effort To End DACA Program

U.S. Supreme Court

The Supreme Court ruled that Donald Trump’s administration was arbitrary and capricious as it sought to end an Obama-era program to protect some 700,000 “dreamers,” or young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children.

The decision (read it here) means that those “dreamers” can stay in the United States for now.

Chief Justice John Roberts was joined by the court’s four liberal members in the decision. The remaining conservative members of the court concurred with parts of the opinion and dissented in others.

Roberts wrote in the decision that they were not deciding whether the Obama-era program, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program, “are sound policies,” but whether the Department of Homeland Security followed proper procedure in rescinding the program.

He wrote that the agency “failed to consider the conspicuous is-sues of whether to retain forbearance and what if anything to do about the hardship to DACA recipients. That dual failure raises doubts about whether the agency appreciated the scope of its discretion or exercised that discretion in a reasonable manner. The appropriate recourse is therefore to remand to DHS so that it may consider the problem anew.”

Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote a separate opinion in which she wrote that while she was in the majority, she believes that they prevented any future challenge to doing away with the DACA policy on the argument that it violates the Constitution’s equal protection clause.

She wrote that “the impact of the policy decision must be viewed in the context of the President’s public statements on and off the campaign trail. At the motion-to-dismiss stage, I would not so readily dismiss the allegation that an executive decision disproportionately harms the same racial group that the President branded as less desirable mere months earlier.”

The DACA program was launched by the Obama administration in 2012, and it was designed to give a reprieve for immigrants who have spent much of their lives in the United States yet are undocumented. The policy, issued by executive order, allowed recipients to receive two-year deferrals from the threat of deportation, as well as eligibility for work permits.

The Trump administration targeted the program in 2017, announcing that it was being repealed. They argued that the Obama administration did not have the authority to implement its policy without congressional action, but activists and many corporations objected to the efforts to end DACA.

In his opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that the Obama-era DACA program was “substantially unlawful.”

“This conclusion should begin and end our review,” Thomas wrote. “The decision to rescind an unlawful agency action is per se lawful. No additional policy justifications or considerations are necessary. And, the majority’s contrary holding—that an agency is not only permitted, but required, to continue an ultra vires action—has no basis in law.”

More than 100 businesses signed on to an amicus brief in favor of DACA, as a number of their employees are “dreamers.” Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, wrote on Twitter after the decision, that “the 478 Dreamers at Apple are members of our collective family. With creativity and passion, they’ve made us a stronger, more innovative American company. We’re glad for today’s decision and will keep fighting until DACA’s protections are permanent.”

Trump reacted angrily to the latest Supreme Court decision. Earlier this week, the high court ruled against the administration in deciding that LGBT Americans were protected from job discrimination under existing law.

Trump wrote, “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!”

He added, “Do you get the impression that the Supreme Court doesn’t like me?”

Obama weighed in on the ruling, writing on Twitter, “Eight years ago this week, we protected young people who were raised as part of our American family from deportation. Today, I’m happy for them, their families, and all of us. We may look different and come from everywhere, but what makes us American are our shared ideals and now to stand up for those ideals, we have to move forward and elect @JoeBiden and a Democratic Congress that does its job, protects DREAMers, and finally creates a system that’s truly worthy of this nation of immigrants once and for all.”

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