Thursday, Jun 18, 2020

The U.S. Supreme Court today in a 5-4 vote ruled against the Trump administration’s decision to end a popular program safeguarding young, working undocumented immigrants from deportation, stating the 2017 rescission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was “arbitrary and capricious.”

In writing the majority opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts noted the court was offering no decision on whether DACA or its rescission were “sound policy.”  Instead, the ruling in Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of Univ. of Cal. addresses whether the Department of Homeland Security  “complied with the procedural requirement that it provide a reasoned explanation for its action.”

The Court now sends the issue back to DHS, which can choose to reconsider DACA and its nearly 800,000 participants. If the federal agency attempts to again rescind the program, it must offer a better explanation.  

Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan joined Roberts in full, while Justice Sonia Sotomayor joined in most of the opinion. Justice Clarence Thomas wrote a dissent which was joined by Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch. Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote his own dissent.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops had previously filed an amicus brief in support of maintaining the program, and issued a statement today welcoming the court’s decision, pledging unwavering support to DACA youth.

“You are a vital part of our Church and our community of faith. We are with you,” stated USCCB President Archbishop Gomez of Los Angeles and Auxiliary Bishop Dorsonville of Washington, chairman of the Committee on Migration.

The two bishops also urged President Trump to scuttle any termination plans for DACA, especially during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“In this moment, we must show compassion and mercy for the vulnerable,” they wrote.

They also encouraged the U.S. Senate to immediately pass legislation providing a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, noting a permanent solution “is long overdue.”

It was the inaction of Congress to take up comprehensive immigration reform that prompted President Barack Obama in June 2012 to create DACA by executive order to provide protection against deportation for those young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children. The bi-partisan DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act) was first introduced in 2001 in the Senate but has never gained enough support to pass.

DACA allows applicants to get a renewable, two-year work permit and safety from deportation as long as they had entered the United States before their 16 th birthday and before June 2007, and were younger than 31 on June 15, 2012.

public opinion survey conducted June  4-10 by Pew Research Center shows that 74% of Americans favor a law that would provide permanent legal status to Dreamers, with only 24% opposed.

Catholic bishops nationwide harshly criticized the September 2017 announcement by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions that DACA would end the following March. The president and vice president of USCCB called the move “reprehensible,” stating the decision was “unacceptable and does not reflect who we are as Americans.”

The bishops of Illinois spoke to the nearly 42,000 DACA participants then living in Illinois when they issued a statement shortly thereafter, imploring members of the Illinois congressional delegation to enact comprehensive immigration reform to protect the Dreamers who know only the United States as their home.

“We offer our compassion and support to the Dreamers. We are aware of your situation and we will work to assure your immigration status is regularized,” they wrote. “You have brought many wonderful assets to this country and our Church, and we are proud to have you among us.”

Following today’s ruling, it was unclear if DACA would begin accepting new applications or if DHS would try again to eliminate it as a presidential election looms in November. Since 2018, the program has been accepting renewals because of a court order but has not taken new applications. The Migration Policy Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based nonpartisan think tank, estimates that about 66,000 young undocumented immigrants have become newly eligible for the program, according to a Wall Street Journal article.

Trump issued a series of tweets after the court handed down its decision, stating in one tweet, “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.”

Free photo by 3D graphics image by Quince Creative via Pixabay.