On Tuesday the Supreme Court heard oral arguments over the legality of the Trump administration’s rescission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA. This policy, which was put in place by the Obama administration in 2012, provides protection from deportation to over 800,000 individuals without lawful immigration status after being brought to the country as children. The rationale behind DACA rests on the fact that these individuals were not adults at the time they arrived to this country and did not make the decision to become undocumented immigrants. While DACA does not provide its recipients with a path to citizenship, it does allow them to work, study, and build lives within the United States. To the majority of them this is the only country they know.
The Trump administration’s reasoning behind the rescission is the constitutionality and legality of President Obama’s implementation of the program. It argues that then President Obama went beyond his presidential powers by establishing a program of this scope without Congressional approval. Supporters of DACA have successfully halted the end of the program by convincing three separate federal appeals courts that when an administration revokes a policy of this scope and impact it must provide a fully supported rationale that weighs the pros and cons of the program.
A final ruling by the Supreme Court will likely take place in the spring of 2020. Many expert opine that the Court is leaning towards upholding the Trump administration’s termination of DACA. While the administration has stated that it will strike a deal with Congress to protect DACA recipients if the Court decides in its favor, such a deal appears unlikely in the current political climate. An end to DACA without a deal in place would not only cause a humanitarian crisis for hundreds of thousands of individuals, but also threaten severe economic consequences. According to FWD.us, an immigration advocacy organization, DACA recipients and their families contribute billions of dollars in taxes each year and $42 billion in annual GDP. Moreover, the vast majority of DACA recipients (91%) who are 25 years old and older are employed.
Immigration policy issues are undoubtably complex. Decades of unsuccessful comprehensive immigration reform has left us with an incredibly complicated web of policies, regulations, and laws that are challenging to unravel. The history of failed attempts to reform has left us with stop-gap measures such as DACA. Regardless of the Courts ultimate ruling, we must stay informed and active regarding our immigration system. These issues test our empathy, tolerance, and beliefs on what it foundamentally means to be American. I urge anyone reading this to remain part of the conversation and to always remember…We Can Do Better!