The court last month heard arguments surrounding Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program designed to protect undocumented youth - also called “Dreamers” - from deportation.
DACA was implemented through executive order in 2012 by former President Barack Obama. In 2017 President Donald Trump announced he wants to end it as part of his plan to stem the flow of illegal immigration into the U.S.
Facing the Supreme Court is the decision of whether or not Obama went beyond his presidential powers under the U.S. constitution by ignoring the U.S. Congress to implement DACA, which is what the Trump administration claims.
The court must decide if the Trump administration used proper procedures and explanations in trying to end DACA. It could make its decision by June 2020.
The aim of DACA is to provide protection to youngsters who came to the U.S. illegally before age 16 and are no older than 30. Most were brought by their parents. Some, including many from the Caribbean, used valid visas to enter, but overstayed the time allotted by immigration authorities.
The program does not offer a direct path to U.S. citizenship.
DACA allows the youngsters to remain in the country as long as they meet certain requirements, including attending school. Recipients are also able to get a driver’s license and work permit.
Approximately 700,000 DACA recipients are in the U.S., with hundreds believed to be from Caribbean nations.
While Trump has sought to end it, including refusing to renew DACA applications, his administration has not offered an alternative for the “Dreamers”.
The Trump administration brought the matter to the Supreme Court after lower courts in multiple states, including California, District of Columbia and New York, rejected the current administration’s attempt to end it, allowing DACA to continue.
“The president’s decision to end DACA ... was not only illegal, it ran contrary to American values,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said.
However, Trump has lumped DACA recipients with various criminal atrocities allegedly committed by undocumented immigrants. He has also repeatedly claimed that illegal immigration is not fair to those who live in the U.S. legally.
“Before we ask what is fair to illegal immigrants, we must also ask what is fair to American families, students, taxpayers, and job seekers,” Trump noted.
The nine-member Supreme Court includes two justices each appointed by Obama and Trump.
During oral arguments last month, it appeared the justices generally had compassion towards the Dreamers.
“I hear a lot of facts, sympathetic facts, that you’ve put out there, and they speak to all of us,” said Justice Neil Gorsuch.
Some legal scholars argue that it is likely the Supreme Court will back the Trump administration. Chief Justice John Roberts’s reasoning indicated that the Trump was correct in saying the program was illegal. However, he added, the court could rule in a manner which makes any impact against the Dreamers more tolerable for them.
“It’s not always the case when the government acts illegally in a way that affects other people that we go back and untangle all of the consequences of that,” Roberts said.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor argued it could possibly be inhumane to end DACA.
“This is not about the law. This is about our choice to destroy lives,” she said.
In recent times Trump has been even harsher to DACA recipients.
“Many of the people in DACA, no longer very young, are far from ‘angels. Some are very tough, hardened criminals,” the president wrote on Twitter.