US President Donald Trump Picture: AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski/file
US President Donald Trump Picture: AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski/file

US Supreme Court blocks Trump bid to end 'Dreamers' immigrant program

By By Lawrence Hurley Time of article published Jun 18, 2020

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WASHINGTON- The US Supreme Court on

Thursday dealt President Donald Trump a major setback on his

hardline immigration policies, blocking his bid to end a program

that protects from deportation hundreds of thousands of

immigrants - often called "Dreamers" - who entered the United

States illegally as children.

The justices on a 5-4 vote upheld lower court rulings that

found that Trump's 2017 move to rescind the Deferred Action for

Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, created in 2012 by his

Democratic predecessor Barack Obama, was unlawful.

Conservative Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court's

four liberals in finding that the administration's actions were

"arbitrary and capricious" under a federal law called the

Administrative Procedure Act.

The ruling means that the roughly 649,000 immigrants, mostly

young Hispanic adults born in Mexico and other Latin American

countries, currently enrolled in DACA will remain protected from

deportation and eligible to obtain renewable two-year work

permits.

The ruling does not prevent Trump from trying again to end

the program. But his administration is unlikely to be able to

end DACA before the Nov. 3 election in which Trump is seeking a

second four-year term in office.

"We do not decide whether DACA or its rescission are sound

policies. We address only whether the agency complied with the

procedural requirement that it provide a reasoned explanation

for its action," Roberts wrote.

The ruling marks the second time this week that Roberts has

ruled against Trump in a major case following Monday's decision

finding that gay and transgender workers are protected under

federal employment law.

"These horrible & politically charged decisions coming out

of the Supreme Court are shotgun blasts into the face of people

that are proud to call themselves Republicans or Conservatives,"

Trump wrote on Twitter after the DACA ruling.

The court's four other conservatives including two Trump

appointees, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, dissented.

"Today's decision must be recognized for what it is: an

effort to avoid a politically controversial but legally correct

decision," Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in dissent.

Thomas, whose dissent was joined by Gorsuch and Justice

Samuel Alito, said DACA itself was "substantively unlawful."

Trump's administration has argued that Obama exceeded his

constitutional powers when he created DACA by executive action,

bypassing Congress.

A collection of states including California and New York,

people currently enrolled in DACA and civil rights groups all

filed suit to block Trump's plan to end the program. Lower

courts in California, New York and the District of Columbia

ruled against Trump and left DACA in place, finding that his

move to revoke the program violated the Administrative Procedure

Act.

Only one justice, liberal Sonia Sotamayor, embraced

arguments made by plaintiffs that the policy may have been

motivated by discriminatory bias against immigrants. Sotamayor

is the court's first Hispanic justice.

Trump has made his crackdown on legal and illegal

immigration, including pursuing construction of a wall along the

U.S.-Mexican border, a central part of his presidency and his

2020 re-election campaign.

'I FEEL CONTENT'

DACA recipients and their supporters in Congress including

House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and in the

business community welcomed the ruling and called for permanent

protections to be enacted.

"I feel content. I think the decision was what we deserved,

but at the same time I am also thinking we still have to defend

the program," said Melody Klingenfuss, a 26-year-old DACA

recipient and organizer with the California Dream Network.

Roberts a year ago also cast the decisive vote in a Supreme

Court loss for the Republican president when the justices

blocked Trump's administration from adding a citizenship

question to the 2020 census that critics said was an effort to

dissuade immigrants from taking part in the decennial population

count. That case raised similar questions about whether Trump's

administration followed lawful procedures in a reaching policy

decision.

Immigrants had to meet certain conditions to qualify for

DACA enrollment such as not being convicted of a felony or

significant misdemeanor and being enrolled in high school or

having a high school diploma or equivalent.

Government figures show that upwards of 95 percent of

current enrollees were born in Latin America, including 80

percent from Mexico, followed by El Salvador, Guatemala and

Honduras. Nearly half live in California and Texas. The average

age of DACA enrollees is 26.

Obama created the DACA program after Congress failed to pass

bipartisan legislation that would have overhauled U.S.

immigration policy and offered protections for the immigrants

known as "Dreamers," a moniker derived from the name of an

immigration bill.

The young immigrants for whom the program was devised, Obama

said, were raised and educated in the United States, grew up as

Americans and often know little about their countries of origin.

After Thursday's ruling, Obama wrote on Twitter, "We may look

different and come from everywhere, but what makes us American

are our shared ideals."

REUTERS

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