What You Need to Know on the Supreme Court Hearing a Major Case on DACA

Protester at a rally with a sign "DACA NOW" Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals

On November 12, 2019, the Supreme Court heard three separate cases challenging President Trump’s attempted rescission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative. The Court’s ultimate decision could have far-reaching consequences for DACA recipients and could limit the executive authority when it comes to immigration law and policy.

Government data shows that approximately 661,000 people are currently enrolled in DACA. These individuals were required to meet specific criteria, related to age, education, and criminal history. The DACA initiative allowed these individuals to work legally in the United States in two-year renewable increments, and protected these individuals from deportation. President Trump terminated the DACA initiative on September 5, 2017.

The Supreme Court focused on one primary question: did the Trump administration provide an adequate explanation for why it ended DACA?

Any decision made by the Executive Branch that constitutes a major policy decision, such as ending DACA, must be explained to ensure that the reasoning was not “arbitrary and capricious.” The Trump administration needs to explain why it was ending an initiative that hundreds of thousands of individuals had benefitted from and relied upon.

When the DACA initiative was rescinded in 2017, the Trump administration released two memorandums claiming that the DACA initiative was an unconstitutional exercise of authority and this “illegal” from the start. However, neither memorandum offered any justification for the termination of the initiative.

In response to several lawsuits, lower courts around the country issued injunctions against the recession of DACA. This forced the Department of Homeland Security to continue accepting and adjudicating DACA requests from individuals who have DACA and those who had participated in the past. Finally, these lawsuits have made their way to the Supreme Court.

Initial reports indicate that a majority of the Supreme Court Justices appear to be ready to allow the Trump administration to rescind the DACA initiative. The consequences of revoking the initiative could be vast, throwing the lives of hundreds of thousands of individuals into disarray.

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