18 Jun Supreme Court’s DACA decision Opens a Window for Dreamers
The Supreme Court ruled today that the Trump administration cannot immediately end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program created by an Obama administration executive order.
“Dreamers,” children who were brought into the country by their parents – either unlawfully or whose lawful status has since expired, are protected from deportation and allowed to legally work through DACA protections. Dreamers must meet certain criteria in order to apply and maintain DACA. If granted, they receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation– barring any serious criminal activity. They are also granted work authorization which opens the door to lawful employment, driver’s licenses, and a social security number for work and tax purposes among other benefits.
The Court’s decision was described in the majority opinion, by Chief Justice John Roberts. “We do not decide whether DACA or its rescission are sound policies,” the chief justice wrote. “We address only whether the agency complied with the procedural requirement that it provide a reasoned explanation for its action.”
This is important. The Trump administration’s explanation for ending DACA was that President Obama did not have the authority to create it in the first place, so they sought to remove the whole order and all protections at once. The court did not decide whether DACA was sound constitutional policy, and they did not decide whether the Trump administration ending it or any part of it, is sound policy. This decision only states that the reason given for ending DACA is not sufficient and the court is requiring further consideration of the impact on Dreamers and the effect of ending non-enforcement of immigration laws.
The Department of Homeland Security under the Trump administration can offer other explanations that the Court may find sound, and if President Trump is re-elected, they may choose to try. However, since this is a very contentious issue it is unlikely that they would pursue it further before the election in November.
So what the Court has provided with this decision is less an outright “win” and more a “window of opportunity” for DACA eligible individuals to apply for and renew under the program. Thanks to this ruling USCIS is now processing these applications and there is no telling when or if the program could be altered in the future.