DACA stays: Supreme Court blocks Trump plot to end program


Greg Stanton outside the US Supreme Court during DACA hearings 12 November 2019

Greg Stanton, House of Representatives / Public domain

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Comments by Sanwar Ali:

This is an important victory for those who wish to keep DACA.   Trump seems to have become more and more unpopular and so he may very well not be re-elected in November 2020.  Joe Biden the Democrat Challenger is between 11 and 14 points ahead of Trump according to recent opinion polls. The Democrats could be elected.  That would almost certainly mean that there will be no further attempts to end DACA.

Still ongoing rumours about new US visa restrictions.  If you are considering the H1B visaH2B visaL1 visaJ1 visa or OPT for F1 visa students you should apply soon.  Even if you apply soon you may still be affected by a possible ban.  It seems if it happens the work visa ban may last from 90 to 180 days.  It is uncertain what will happen.

If you are against the possible work visa ban you should consider contacting White House Officials, Lawmakers and others to make your views felt.  There is considerable evidence to suggest that employing non-immigrant workers helps the economy and creates jobs.

The Trump administration’s plot to abolish the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program ended in defeat, with the Supreme Court blocking the President’s efforts to scrap the Obama-era legislation. A 5 – 4 vote in favor of keeping the program means that more than 652,800 people can remain in the US.

Hundreds of thousands of people, including doctors on the frontline in the fight against coronavirus, had been waiting on the outcome of the Supreme Court’s deliberations concerning the program. DACA enables undocumented migrants, brought to the US as children, to remain in the US to live and work without fear of deportation.

Under the program, young people – commonly referred to as ‘Dreamers’ – lacking legal immigration status in the US are able to get renewable authorization to remain in the US for two years, allowing them to live and work in the country. However, the program does not offer a path to US citizenship.

Attempt to scrap DACA ‘Arbitrary and capricious’

Chief Justice John Roberts, who wrote the 5 – 4 majority opinion, described the Trump administration’s plot to scrap the program as “arbitrary and capricious.”

It’s reported that the case ultimately hinged on whether the Trump administration adhered to correct procedures in its decision to abolish DACA, and not whether the administration could legally end it. The majority opinion stated that “all parties agree that the administration can legally end it.”

While this attempt has been blocked by the Supreme Court, the decision leaves the door open for the administration to, again, pursue ending the program. However, any new attempt to scrap the program is unlikely before the presidential elections in November.

Ending DACA unpopular

Ending the DACA program is likely to be very unpopular. There is widespread support for Dreamers. According to a Politico and Morning Consult poll published earlier this month, even a majority of Trump supporters believe that the DACA program should continue.

Following the Supreme Court ruling, Trump took to Twitter, tweeting: “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!”

The decision was described as a ‘politically motivated stopgap’ by Justice Clarence Thomas. He was joined in his dissent by justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch. Thomas wrote “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.”

Obama-era legislation

The DACA program was implemented by former US President, Barack Obama, in 2012. Trump rescinded the policy in September 2017, which is why the program has made its way into the court system.

While Trump has repeatedly insisted that he supports those protected from deportation by DACA, for close to three years people’s futures have been shrouded in uncertainty as the policy got caught up in the US legal system.

The Supreme Court weighed up whether the program could continue during a hearing in November 2019.

Efforts to protect the DACA community first emerged 20 years ago when the Dream Act was introduced in 2001. Over the last two decades, repeated efforts have been made by Congress to pass different versions of the legislation, without success.

Meanwhile, a determined group of activists created a very influential movement to secure protections for Dreamers.

Dreamer activists push for benefits

In several States, including California, New York and Washington, Dreamer activists have lobbied for laws that would allow them to apply for a driving license or qualify for college loans and reduced tuition programs.

According to a report by The Guardian, 652,880 people were protected by DACA as of September 2019. Approximately 27,000 are reportedly healthcare practitioners, while nearly 9,000 are teachers.

Records show that around 80% of people protected by the DACA program arrived in the US from Mexico, while nearly 50% of the Dreamers’ community live in California and Texas.

The Supreme Court’s decision was celebrated by former US President Barack Obama. In a tweet, Obama wrote: “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.”

DACA incredibly popular

A Pew Research Center survey, carried out earlier this month, highlights the popularity of the DACA program. The survey shows that 74% or Americans support a law that gives undocumented migrants, brought to the US as children, legal status in the country.

Trump seemingly is an advocate of Dreamers, speaking positively of the community despite attempting to end protections for them and their families. However, his administration has said that ‘shutting down DACA is necessary because Obama illegally implemented it in 2012.

The US President has defended his apparent contradictory stance on the program, claiming that bringing it to an end would ‘force Congress to reach a deal that supports Dreamers.’

However, debates over the legality of DACA have mostly taken place in the lower courts, with very little attention to the program given by Congress. The decisions made by those courts allowed DACA to remain, but only for those who were already under the program.

Once the issue hit the Supreme Court, it became more about government rule-making than whether the program could continue. The Supreme Court’s first job was to actually establish whether the USA’s highest court had the authority to even review the case, which the Supreme Court said it did.

During the November 2019 hearing, much of the discussion focused on the administrative law that formed the basis of the case.  Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina Supreme Court justice, urged the court to consider the ‘human aspect’ of the case, particularly because Trump had insisted that he’d keep Dreamers safe.

According to The Guardian report, eight of the nine justices ruled that the Trump administration’s revocation of the DACA program ‘does not violate equal protection laws,’ drawing a line between anti-immigrant and racist comments made by Trump and the agency that pulled the policy.

Sotomayor was the lone justice to dispute the notion that Trump’s revocation of DACA didn’t violate equal protection laws, saying: “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.”

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