Supreme Court Appears Divided Over Fate of DACA

By Shani Saxon Nov 12, 2019

The United States Supreme Court on Tuesday (November 12), heard arguments to determine the fate of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and Reuters reports that the justices seem to be divided. This case is “one of the most important of the term,” according to The New York Times, and it will ultimately determine presidential power over immigration policy.

The Trump administration is on a mission to end the program, which is widely supported in Congress and protects roughly 700,000 young immigrants from deportation. Launched by President Obama in 2012, DACA offers protection for people brought to the United States as children. Often referred to as “Dreamers,” they are able to live and work in the U.S. via a renewable temporary status. Currently, there is no path to citizenship for Dreamers. 

According to Reuters, conservative Supreme Court justices appeared to be sympathetic to the Trump administration’s goal to end the program. The news outlet reports:


Several of the five conservative justices appeared skeptical that courts can even review the Republican president’s 2017 plan to end [DACA]…. Even if the court finds that it can be reviewed, conservative justices indicated they think Trump’s administration gave a reasonable explanation for its decision.

Liberal justices, however, were more focused on the hundreds of thousands of people and businesses that have benefited from the program, Reuters reports:


Justice Sonia Sotomayor demanded that U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco, who argued the case for the administration, identify whether the administration considered all the harm that ending the program would do, or if it was just a “choice to destroy lives.”

States suing over Trump’s move to end the program include California and New York, according to Reuters. Lower courts found “Trump’s move to rescind DACA was likely ‘arbitrary and capricious’ and violated a U.S. law called the Administrative Procedure Act.”

The Supreme Court is now considering the case. As Reuters reports:


The justices must determine whether administration officials failed to provide adequate reasons for the decision to end DACA. The initial memo rescinding DACA, the plaintiffs said, gave a “one-sentence explanation” and did not spell out why the administration believes the program is unlawful. The justices will also have to decide whether the administration’s action against DACA is even something courts can review.