It has been a shockingly good week at the Supreme court. Today they issued a huge rebuke of Donald Trump’s attempts to ended the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program, also known as the Dreamer program. In an opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts, the court ruled that the decision to end the DACA program was “arbitrary and capricious” and could not stand.
The DACA program was started by President Obama in 2012 and halted deportations of children of illegal immigrants who were brought to the US when they were under 16. These Dreamers were given deferred action based on the fact that the US was their home and the country where they had grown up, and that they should not be punished via deportation to a country they did not know for actions their parents, not they, took.
In order to end the program, because so many people rely on DACA to remain here, and also because so many Dreamers are employed and businesses rely on those workers, the Trump administration had to give a good and compelling reason for ending it. They didn’t.
In early 2017, Donald Trump and his Department of Homeland security tried to simply end DACA, just because they hate immigrants. That’s the very definition of arbitrary and capricious (with bonus racism). Lower courts put a halt to deportations, but since 2017, Dreamers have lived in fear and limbo regarding their status here in the US. Today, they can rest easy, as the Trump administration was slapped down.
This doesn’t mean that DACA is completely safe, however. The ruling here means that Trump and co. were wrong in the way they tried to kill DACA, not in the attempt. If they were to, theoretically, provide a well-reasoned and complete explanation for ending the program and then do so, they might be allowed to, though they would face more legal challenges and court scrutiny that they might not want to deal with. Such a move would also require firm legal reasoning and thoughtfulness from the Trump administration, which is not something they are known for, to say the least.
Chief Justice Roberts sided with the “liberal” branch of the court (Ginsburg, Kagan, Sotomayor, Breyer) in this ruling, and proved once again that he is not the conservative stalwart that many hope him to be. This, alongside his vote in favor of Title VII protections for LGBT people and his previous rulings, that “saved Obamacare,” indicate he’s far more of a swing vote than anyone expected. Justice Sotomayor delivered a partial dissent, agreeing with the conclusion but also arguing that equal protection should apply.
This is a huge victory against the Trump administration, coming just a week after other Supreme court wins for the forces of liberty and equality. After so many years of despair, it’s strange to feel happy and inspired again, but it’s certainly nice to feel something akin to hope for a few minutes.
(Photo by DANIEL SLIM/AFP via Getty Images)
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