Supreme Court decides DACA stays for now

Protesters have given DACA students a voice

ACLU of Kansas joins the millions of people nationwide celebrating the Supreme Court decision declaring President Trump’s efforts to end the lifeline program as reckless and unreasonable.


The United States Supreme Court last Thursday handed President Donald Trump’s a rejection of his attempt to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. It was a major blow to the Trump administration and a huge victory to roughly 650,000 immigrants — most of whom who entered the U.S. illegally by way of their parents or by other family members as children.

In a surprise move, Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court’s Democratic appointees in a 5-4 decision that found the Trump administration’s move to wind down the Obama-era program for Dreamers lacked a sound legal basis.

Local Kansas City immigration attorney Jessica Piedra believes the way the Trump administration wanted to end the DACA program was incorrect. “They said (Supreme Court) they did not give an adequate explanation and also did not consider that DACA recipients have relied on the program - continued their education, bought homes, had their own U.S. citizen children. This should return the program to the original rules from 2012 allowing first-time applications and travel permits. But we will have to see what the Trump administration does next.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., was the swing vote on the decision, and he wrote the majority opinion concluding that the decision to phase out the program was unlawful because it did not consider all the options to rein in the program and failed to account for the interests of those who relied on it.

Roberts added the Trump officials who ordered the wind-down in 2017, acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke, erred by failing to consider whether it was possible to eliminate the work permits issued to DACA recipients without ending the limited protection they enjoy from deportation. He also said she didn’t give adequate thought to how important the program was to those with DACA status.

“Here the agency failed to consider the conspicuous issues of whether to retain forbearance [from deportation] and what if anything to do about the hardship to DACA recipients,” Roberts wrote. “That dual failure raises doubts about whether the agency appreciated the scope of its discretion or exercised that discretion in a reasonable manner. The appropriate recourse is therefore to remand to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) so that it may consider the problem anew.”

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Maria Sotomayor expressed how President Donald Trump’s history of remarks against Mexicans, immigrants and the administration’s position on DACA students was insulting to Latinos. She wrote that “something other than questions about the legality of DACA” was behind the administration’s decision to end the program.

The president’s words, in her view, provided important context. Trump has called Mexican immigrants “people with lots of problems” “the bad ones,” and “criminals, drug dealers and rapists,” and compared undocumented immigrants to “animals,” she wrote.

The decision to end the DACA program, Sotomayor stated, was “contaminated by the impermissible discriminatory animus” —and she called out her colleagues for not acknowledging this. Sotomayor adding that the Court was overlooking Trump’s history of remarks about Latinos and immigrants to explain why he wanted to end a program that allows young undocumented teens and adults, brought to the U.S. as children, to be able to work and study without fear of deportation.

“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,” wrote Sotomayor.

Justices Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh all dissented from the decision saying they would have allowed the administration’s to phase out of DACA to proceed.

The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) “The decision is a major milestone since 2001, when I served as a Texas legislator and drafted what we passed as the nation’s first Dream Act. This is another step forward and a clear message that we must have comprehensive immigration reform. We congratulate the court for upholding one of the most important promises since the founding of our country for everyone. This decision recognizes the rightful place in America for the young people who are DACA recipients. They came here as children and this is the only home most of them have ever known. The United States is benefitting from their presence because everyday DACAmericans are earning an education, holding jobs and helping their own families as well as our nation. LULAC will continue to work so that they too can become U.S. citizens. We will never stop the fight for right.” Domingo Garcia, LULAC National President.

The highest court in the land ruled that the Department of Homeland Security move to end DACA was arbitrary and capricious. Justices Roberts, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan ruled that the Trump administration violated the laws governing federal agencies when it decided to end DACA and that the memorandum that Acting Secretary Elaine Duke wrote to recommend termination failed to consider important parts of the problem before the agency.

Kansas ACLU officials said in a statement,“Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA is safe for now, and the ACLU of Kansas joins the millions of people nationwide celebrating this Supreme Court decision declaring President Trump’s efforts to end the lifeline program as reckless and unreasonable.

Kansas has more than 6,000 DACA recipients who grew up here and have dedicated their lives to give back to our communities. Many of these DACA recipients are frontline workers supporting us and protecting us through this unforgiving COVID-19 pandemic. This was a fair and just decision.

But this victory is only temporary. The majority opinion, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, made it clear that the Trump Administration, through the Department of Homeland Security, has the authority to rescind DACA with solid justification. The problem here was that the way his administration went about trying to end the program was “arbitrary and capricious,” and therefore violated administrative law.

Like the constant vigilance we have dedicated to guarding civil liberties civil rights at the ACLU of Kansas, protecting the rights of undocumented young people remains an on-going fight.

We are in solidarity with the undocumented youth and their families. We celebrate the immeasurable contributions DACA recipients bring to our families, our communities, our state, and our country. We are here for the celebration, but more importantly, for the work ahead.

Paola Dominguez is a DACA student she was brought to the United States when she was 5 years old from Chihuahua, Chihuahua Mexico. She told Hispanic News she earned her education here in Kansas City and also received a full ride college scholarship from the Kauffman foundation. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Kansas.

She’s kept tabs on the Supreme Court and their recent decision. Dominguez has always worried ever since Trump was elected President.“I was concerned and I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to renew my stay. I have a job and if I don’t have money and if I don’t have a Social Security card or my work permit. I can’t work any more or go back to get my Master’s Degree. Dominguez feels fortunate to have been able to achieve her goal of higher education and worry about those younger DACA students who have the same dreams she had about going to college.

Dominguez feels the power the protesters has given DACA students a voice. “And I feel our voices will continue to be heard and we are going to continue to be fighting until we can pass the Dream Act. I think we have been close to losing hope but we will keep fighting and I have faith in God and everything will work out for the best.”

Piedra said one real important issue is that current DACA holders should continue to renew their paperwork right away. People interested in applying for the first time should get ready. They will need evidence that they have been present in the U.S. since before June 15, 2007, that they entered the U.S. prior to age 15, and that they have a student status of: current high school student, high school graduate, current GED student or GED certificate.