An individual also had to pose no national security or public safety threats. Recipients who met the criteria became eligible for renewable, two-year grants of “deferred action” from removal. They were also eligible for work authorization and Social Security numbers. In return, however, they had to provide the government with certain identifying information.
After Trump came into office, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the program had been created “without proper authority” and only after Congress had rejected proposed legislation. The following day, Elaine Duke, then-acting Secretary of Homeland Security, announced it would be phased out, pointing out that it had “legal and constitutional defects.”
Months later, after legal challenges had been launched, then-Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen issued a new memo laying out more policy-based justifications for winding down the program. She said, for example, that the program increased the risk of undermining public confidence in the rule of law.
Federal courts stepped in and said the administration had acted arbitrarily when phasing out the program in violation of the law. The courts pointed to the administration’s thin justification — reasoning Roberts and the Supreme Court eventually agreed with.
The administration moved aggressively asking the Supreme Court to lift the injunctions, and the President predicted success.
“We want to be in the Supreme Court on DACA,” Trump said. But the justices sat on the petition for months, before finally granting cert last term.
The plaintiffs, including the University of California, a handful of states and DACA recipients argue to the Supreme Court that the phase-out violated the Administrative Procedure Act, a federal law that governs how agencies can establish regulations.
One hundred and forty-three business associations and companies filed a brief in support of DACA stressing that its phase-out will harm the economy. The brief points to research from the libertarian Cato Institute that estimates that companies will face an estimated $6.3 billion in costs to replace Dreamers “if they can even find new employees to fill the empty positions.”
And Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, filed a brief in support of DACA noting that his company employs 443 Dreamers who come from 25 different countries and four continents.
“We did not hire them out of kindness or charity,” Cook argued. “We did it because Dreamers embody Apple’s innovative strategy” he said. “They come from diverse backgrounds and display a wide range of skills and experiences that equip them to tackle problems from different perspectives.”
After the justices heard arguments in the case, supporters of DACA recipients also told the court that some 27,000 recipients were working on the front lines to fight Covid-19.
Lawmakers look for a more permanent solution
Several Democratic lawmakers applauded the decision by the court, proclaiming it a victory while also pushing for more permanent protections for Dreamers.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi praised the decision in a press conference Thursday, saying it “supports our values as a country.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called it a “wonderful, wonderful day for the DACA kids, for their families and for the American dream.”
“We’ve always believed in immigration in America. We’ve had some dark forces oppose it in recent years, but we believe in it. It’s part of our soul,” the New York Democrat said on the Senate floor. “In these very difficult times, the Supreme Court provided a bright ray of sunshine this week.”
Many lawmakers pointed to the Dream and Promise Act, a bill making its way through the Senate that prohibits removal proceedings against certain immigrants and provides them with a path to permanent resident status, as a next step in the fight for DACA.
“Supreme Court decision on #DACA is a victory for Dreamers & the American people against the cruelty & unlawfulness of the Trump admin,” Democratic Rep. Joaquin Castro of Texas tweeted. “Senate must immediately pass American Dream & Promise Act for permanent protection.”
Sen. Elizabeth Warren called upon Senate Republicans to “stop political games” on the bill.
“I’m happy the Supreme Court upheld DACA to protect Dreamers from the crisis Trump created. But we can’t stop here,” the Massachusetts Democrat tweeted. “(Senate GOP): stop the political games & pass this bill for Dreamers & their families.”
Former members of the Obama administration echoed those calls.
David Axelrod, a former Obama senior adviser and CNN commentator, tweeted Thursday that action from Congress is needed.
“DACA was never presented as a permanent solution for these young people or to the status of the millions of undocumented people who are here, contributing to, and embedded in, our communities, yet still in a legal shadow. Congress needs to act to address these issues,” Axelrod said.
Former Democratic presidential nominee and member of the Obama administration Hillary Clinton also weighed in, urging Congress to provide a path to citizenship for DACA recipients.
“Today’s Supreme Court decision to uphold DACA is a happy end to the cruel uncertainty the Trump administration put these young people through. Now Congress must give them a path to citizenship,” she said.
GOP criticism of Roberts
Rep. Jim Jordan, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, took aim at Roberts for once again siding with the liberal justices.
“First, Obamacare. Now, DACA. What’s next? Our second amendment gun rights?” Jordan, who represents Ohio, wrote in a tweet.
Sen. Tom Cotton was just as unhappy with the chief justice.
“Yet John Roberts again postures as a Solomon who will save our institutions from political controversy and accountability,” the Arkansas Republican said. “If the Chief Justice believes his political judgment is so exquisite, I invite him to resign, travel to Iowa, and get elected. I suspect voters will find his strange views no more compelling than do the principled justices on the Court.”