By Andrew Soboeiro
With the failure of all three efforts by Congress to enshrine DACA into law, the fate of Dreamers, or undocumented immigrants who entered the country as children, looked bleak. The program was scheduled to expire on March 5th, after which point its participants would lose their work permits and potentially face deportation. But a recent decision by the Supreme Court puts those fears on hold, extending the life of DACA indefinitely.
A Slew of Lawsuits
When the Trump Administration announced that it would rescind DACA, governments and institutions across the country promptly went to court. Joined by 14 other states and the District of Columbia, New York State filed the lawsuit New York v. Trump, alleging that the president’s decision was motivated by prejudice against Mexicans and thus constituted illegal discrimination. Shortly thereafter, California, Maryland, Maine, and Minnesota filed a separate lawsuit in which they claimed the Administration was violating the due process rights of the program’s participants. In addition to states, the University of California system filed a suit, as did a group of six DACA recipients living in San Francisco.
After hearing the lawsuits from California, the US District Court for the Northern District of California ruled that the Federal government had to renew DACA. The judge rejected the Trump Administration’s main legal argument against DACA, which was that the program had been instituted without the proper legal authority. The District Court for the Eastern District of New York came to a similar conclusion when hearing New York v. Trump.
Ordinarily, an administration would respond to these rulings by appealing the cases to appellate courts. But instead, Trump chose to go directly to the Supreme Court, requesting that they rule on the district courts’ decisions. If successful, this move would have sped up the cases, determining more quickly whether the president had the legal right to end DACA.
Reprieve & Renewed Hope
The most direct impact of the Supreme Court’s decision is to buy more time for DACA’s participants. The Trump Administration will have to appeal the district courts’ rulings; the New York case will go to the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals, while the California ones will go to the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals. After these courts rule, the case will be sent to the Supreme Court again, which likely won’t rule at least until the next term begins in October.
While all of this is going on, the Trump Administration must accept renewal applications for the program’s current participants, though it doesn’t need to accept new applications. This will allow nearly 700,000 people to continue living and working in the United States, as well as to look for other legal options in case DACA doesn’t survive.
Besides giving Dreamers more time in the short term, the Supreme Court’s ruling increases the chance that Congress will pass a permanent immigration bill. Simply put, the more time there is before the program expires, the more opportunities Democrats and Republicans have to reach a compromise that protects its participants. It is also possible that the Supreme Court won’t rule on this case until after the midterm elections in November. The next Congress may have an easier time passing immigration bills than the current one, though this will depend on which party controls it.
Vigoda Law Firm has followed the DACA debate from the beginning, along with all other immigration developments. To learn more about immigration policy and your own legal options, call 919-307-7817 or visit our website today.