US SC rules against Trump's bid to end 'Dreamers': What's next for immigrants?
The ruling means that the roughly 649,000 immigrants currently enrolled in Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program will remain protected from deportation.
In a major blow to US President Donald Trump's hardline immigration policies, the Supreme Court has ruled against his bid to end a program that protects hundreds of thousands of immigrants -- often called “Dreamers” -- who entered the country illegally as children from deportation.
The justices on a 5-4 vote upheld lower court rulings that found that Trump's 2017 move to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, created in 2012 by his predecessor Barack Obama, was unlawful.
The administration’s actions, the justices ruled, were “arbitrary and capricious” under a federal law called the Administrative Procedure Act.
Here are some facts about DACA program and what could happen next for the hundreds of thousands of immigrants.
WHAT IS THE DACA PROGRAM?
Obama announced DACA in 2012 after a decade of failed efforts to pass broad immigration legislation in the US Congress, including bills that would have provided a path to citizenship for the Dreamers.
The program offered immigrants who came to the US illegally before age 16 the chance to obtain a work permit and a reprieve from the threat of deportation. To be enrolled in DACA, an applicant cannot have been convicted of a felony or significant misdemeanor and needed to be either still in school, have completed high school or have served in the US military.
The immigrants for whom DACA was devised, Obama said, were raised and educated in the US, grew up as Americans and often know little about their countries of origin. The term Dreamers came from the name of legislation known as the DREAM Act, short for Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act.
WHO IS ENROLLED IN DACA?
About 649,000 people are enrolled in DACA, according to the most recent government data from the end of 2019. A total of about 825,600 immigrants have been enrolled in DACA since its inception, with some no longer enrolled. About 90 per cent of the current enrollees were born in Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. More than half live in California, Texas, Illinois, New York and Florida.
The average age of DACA enrollees is 26, and there are slightly more women than men, the latest statistics showed.
DACA GOES BACK TO DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
The new ruling, authored by Chief Justice John Roberts, sent the issue back to the US Department of Homeland Security for further consideration, concluding that the administration did not provide sufficient reasoning to end DACA.
The decision deemed the administration's actions in seeking to rescind DACA "arbitrary and capricious" in violation of a federal law that governs regulatory changes. It does not stop Trump from trying again to rescind DACA or reduce its protections through other means. A senior Department of Homeland Security official said the agency was reviewing the ruling.
NO DECISION YET ON TRUMP ACTION
Trump criticized the Supreme Court after the ruling and said on Twitter he was seeking "a legal solution on DACA, not a political one," and would have to "start this process all over again."
As President of the United States, I am asking for a legal solution on DACA, not a political one, consistent with the rule of law. The Supreme Court is not willing to give us one, so now we have to start this process all over again.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 18, 2020
The President did not specify what his administration would do next. The ruling does not prevent him from trying again to end the program. But his administration may find it difficult to rescind DACA -- and win any ensuing legal battle -- before the November 3 election in which Trump is seeking a second term in office.
NEW APPLICATIONS IN QUESTION
The ruling means that the roughly 649,000 immigrants, mostly young Hispanic adults born in Mexico and other Latin American countries, now enrolled in DACA will remain protected from deportation and eligible to obtain renewable two-year work permits.
Lower courts had blocked Trump's 2017 action so the program remained in effect, though the administration refused to process new applications.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, whose state was among the challengers that sued to try to preserve DACA, said the ruling could reopen the program "to anyone who qualifies," but that legal processes in lower courts were still ongoing that could determine whether new applications must be processed by the government.
LOOKING TO CONGRESS
The US Congress for years has been unable to pass comprehensive immigration legislation, thwarted primarily by partisan divisions.
Democratic lawmakers after the ruling called on Congress to pass legislation permanently protecting current DACA enrollees and others brought to the US illegally as children. DACA does not offer a path to citizenship. The Democratic-led House of Representatives passed a bill last year that would provide such a pathway to "Dreamers" and other immigrants covered by humanitarian programs.
The Republican-led Senate has not taken up a similar measure.
Trump promised as a candidate in 2016 to end DACA, which he called one of Obama's "illegal executive amnesties," and has pursued hardline immigration policies but could face election risks if he again tries to rescind it. The US public has become increasingly supportive of DACA, according to opinion polls. In a February Reuters/Ipsos poll, 64% of US adult respondents voiced support for DACA's core tenets.
A similar December 2014 poll found that 47% of US adults supported DACA.