Immigrants who were brought to the United States illegally as children have reason to be disappointed by the Supreme Court’s announcement Friday that it will consider how President Donald Trump went about ending the popular Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA.
The court could have declined to review challenges to the initiative, which remains available to about 800,000 so-called Dreamers who have waited years for a permanent solution from Congress.
The public largely supports DACA and its beneficiaries, and lawmakers are working to expand its protections through a path to citizenship.
The justices have remained silent on pending appeals challenging the program for many months — and have even rebuffed an earlier attempt to fast-track a case urging them to declare that shutting down DACA would be lawful. Why the sudden urgency to step in now?
Federal courts in California, New York and Washington have blocked Trump’s effort to end DACA — calling the Department of Homeland Security to task for the shoddy justifications it has offered for ending the program.
Perhaps the harshest such example came from Judge John Bates, an appointee of President George W. Bush who sits on the US District Court only a few blocks from the Supreme Court.
In August, Bates ruled that the rationale the Department of Homeland Security put forward to scrap DACA was “arbitrary and capricious” under federal law — and then some. “A conclusory assertion that a prior policy is illegal, accompanied by a hodgepodge of illogical or post hoc policy assertions, simply will not do,” the judge wrote.
The Trump administration has fared no better in other courts, with one notable exception: In Texas, the judge who blocked a related Obama-era immigration program in 2015 has suggested that he expects DACA to be ultimately declared illegal.
This Supreme Court, with its invigorated conservative majority, will now have the last word. That ruling will very likely come in the midst of the political campaign, and a decision either way will no doubt stir intense emotion.
Until then, hundreds of thousands of people who are Americans in every sense but on paper are left to worry about their fate.
© 2019 New York Times News Service