The Obama-era program DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, has been under attack from the moment it was announced in 2012. The program provides legal status for undocumented immigrants who arrived in America before the age of 16 and prior to 2007, allowing them to legally work, get drivers licenses, and attend universities and colleges. Over 700,000 people have utilized the program, many cautiously. The fear was due to the distrust of providing contact and personal identification information to the government while also registering as an undocumented immigrant. These fears have recently proven to be valid.
Tuesday’s Oral Arguments
After multiple attempts to end the program, the Trump administration found themselves as defendants in the case against the repeal of DACA. The plaintiffs, made up of DACA recipients from California, New York, and Washington D.C., are making the case that the repeal isn’t on legitimate grounds and would be damaging not only to the recipients who would face deportation, but also the communities they live in.
The supreme court heard arguments from Solicitor General Noel Francisco on the side of the defense and Theodore Olsen on the side of the respondents on Tuesday, and its reaction was not comforting to the response.
The current supreme court is relatively conservative compared to recent years, with a 5-4 conservative majority. While liberal justices Elena Kagan and Ruth Bader Ginsberg strongly criticized the basis of Francisco’s arguments, but justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch showed sympathy for the defendant.
The Arguments of the Defendant
Much of Francisco’s argument was based on policies of the Trump administration, mainly the idea that Obama’s implementation of DACA was illegal. Recent online statements by the president also suggested that the administration is taking a harder line on recipients, stating that many of them are “hardened criminals.” It should be noted that immigrants are only eligible for DACA if they have zero outstanding felonies and no more than three minor misdemeanors, meaning that no legitimate DACA recipient is a “hardened criminal.”
The defendants also argued that DACA was always intended to be temporary anyway, as shown by the two-year renewal requirements for recipients.
The Arguments of the Respondents
Olsen’s argument largely centered around the question of whether or not the Trump Administration’s decision violated the law, as the reasons so far given by the administration have had little basis in fact. The Department of Homeland Security policies that have led to this case has been centered around the idea that Obama violated the law when he signed DACA into law, which the liberal justices questioned.
The respondents argued that the case should be sent back until the administration could provide an “accurate, reasoned, rationally, and legally sound explanation” for the repeal. This argument led justice Alito to criticize him for wanting to extend the case for another unspecified period of time.
What Happens if The Ruling Ends DACA
If DACA is ended, hundreds of thousands of working, studying, and tax-paying residents of the US would face deportation. Beyond that, many of the recipients are now adults and have families with American-born children, which would likely be separated from them if they get deported back to a country they haven’t lived in since they were a child. The ruling would also show a troubling loyalty to the Trump administration, who hasn’t provided a clear and rational reason for its decision.
A ruling on this case is expected by June 2020.