On Tuesday, November 13, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on whether the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) should be upheld. Some Supreme Court observers were guessing that the Court may be leaning toward supporting the Trump Administration’s efforts to shut down the program. It can be difficult to judge how the Court will rule during the arguments, but Supreme Court watchers attempt to discern a future decision based on the questions asked by Justices.

Arguments appeared to turn on whether the Administration had the power to shut down DACA and whether they could do it without a reasoned and rational explanation or its potential or whether they could do it regardless of the impact on the people covered by DACA.

DACA was created by President Obama when Congress failed to pass “DREAMERS” legislation that had been a long-time bipartisan bill stretching over more than a decade. Under the Obama Executive Order key provisions require applicants to be at least 15 years of age; be able to prove they were under age 16 when they came to the U.S. and had to be living continuously in the U.S. since June 15, 2017.

Before the Court session the President tweeted, “Many of the people in DACA, no longer very young, are far from ‘angels. Some are very tough, hardened criminals. President Obama said he had no legal right to sign order but would anyway. If the Supreme Court remedies with overturning, a deal will be made with Dems for them to stay!”

The President’s comment via tweeter were far off: applicants had to be under age 31, had to be in school, graduated or completed high school or have been honorably discharged from the U.S. military; and any applicant cannot be guilty of a felony, three misdemeanors or a significant misdemeanor.

Initially, 800,000 people qualified, and 689,000 were still covered when the Trump Administration announced in 2017, the President’s intention to end DACA in March of 2018. The Trump Administration began its efforts to freeze intake and end the programs in September 2017.

On Friday, October 4, 2019, CWLA joined more than 30 national groups submitting an amicus brief in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and in opposition to the Trump Administration’s attempt to repeal the original executive order.

The brief states: “The government’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy has endangered the mental and physical health of hundreds of thousands of children—mostly U.S. citizens—whose parents are DACA recipients. As organizations dedicated to supporting children and promoting their well-being, amici are deeply concerned about the immediate and long-term effects of ending the DACA policy on this population. Since the Trump Administration announced the rescission of DACA, children of DACA recipients live with the fear that their parents will be taken away, and that fear negatively impacts all aspects of their lives, including their health, education, and overall family stability.”

The several of the more conservative Justices appeared to be sympathetic to DACA covered people, “I hear a lot of facts, sympathetic facts, that you’ve put out there, and they speak to all of us,” Justice Gorsuch said.

CWLA joined the lead filers of the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Center for Law and Social Policy on the Amicus Brief.

The amicus brief can be found here, with the appendix here.

About the Author:

John Sciamanna is CWLA's Vice President of Public Policy.

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