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The Supreme Court just roadblocked the Trump administration’s attempt to end DACA, the Obama-era program that gave temporary protections to the nearly 700,000 so-called “Dreamers” living in the U.S. after being brought to the country as young kids.
The Supreme Court said in a 5-4 ruling Thursday that the administration didn’t properly end the program, formally called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or consider the impacts its decisions might have on the Dreamers. The Trump administration moved to rescind DACA, which temporarily shields young immigrants without criminal records from deportation, in 2017. Since then, attorneys for the Department of Justice had repeatedly tried to argue DACA was either unconstitutional or inconsistent with U.S. immigration policy.
“We do not decide whether DACA or its rescission are sound policies,” wrote Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., in his majority opinion, which was joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor. “We address only whether the agency complied with the procedural requirement that it provide a reasoned explanation for its action.”
President Donald Trump had made ending DACA a key part of his 2016 campaign. His administration, however, had dangled keeping some protections for Dreamers in exchange for more border wall funding.
Many of those who benefit from the program, announced by President Barack Obama in 2012, are younger than 25. Nearly 30,000 have gone on to become the same front-line healthcare workers now tackling the country’s staggering coronavirus pandemic, while about 160,000 currently work in other critical industries like food and education, according to the left-leaning Center for American Progress. Physician advocates had warned that striking down DACA in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic would be disastrous.
When the conservative-leaning Supreme Court finally heard arguments in the case in November, justices appeared to side with the administration. Roberts said he trusted that the country wouldn’t immediately deport people en masse and would simply end work authorization, instead.
“The whole thing was about work authorization and these other benefits,” Roberts said in November. “Both administrations have said they’re not going to deport the people.”
After Thursday’s decision, the Trump administration can still try to end the program — it just has to do so more carefully.
Cover: DACA students rally in front of the Supreme Court, Thursday, June 18, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)