The DACA program allows nearly 700,000 young, undocumented immigrants to live and work in the United States without fear of deportation. Yesterday, the Supreme Court protected the program from being dismantled and upheld the rights of immigrants, many of whom came to the US as young children and know no other country as home.
The Department of Homeland Security has been attempting to repeal DACA for over a year, but the court ruled 5-4 that the program was legally viable. In writing the opinion, Justice John Roberts noted that the job of the court was not to decide if DACA was beneficial or not, but rather simply to address whether the agency complied with the procedural requirement that it provide a reasoned explanation for its actions.
Although this ruling does not protect the program from further attacks, it does offer a breath of fresh air for thousands of immigrants who had their residency protections suddenly pulled out from under them. To qualify every two years for DACA, recipients generally must be students, high school graduates, or be enrolled or honorably discharged from the military. They cannot have been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or more than three lesser crimes.
Immigrant rights groups heavily urged the court to uphold DACA, especially given that thousands of DACA recipients are serving on the front lines in the coronavirus pandemic as doctors, nurses, paramedics, and other health care workers. Prior to coming before the Supreme Court, nearly every other federal judge who had heard the case ruled in favor of the “Dreamers” or DACA recipients.