Written by Daphne.
The Creation of DACA
While preparing for a re-election campaign, former President Barack Obama was under significant pressure due to failed immigration reforms during his first term. To amend this, Obama announced Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) on June 5, 2012. DACA gave work permits to certain undocumented individuals who passed the following requirements: arrived in the country before their 16th birthday, currently work as a student, have a diploma or are an honorably discharged veteran, and have no significant criminal record. This stopped the deportation of 690,000 recipients, known as DREAMers. This permit would be renewed every two years with infinite renewals and allowed DREAMers to gain higher education and get a job without the fear of deportation.
Who does DACA help?
DREAMers entered the country as undocumented immigrants in their youth, meaning that they had little choice in their parents’ decision for them. Without the proper documentation, DREAMers would not be able to get a job, pursue higher education, buy a home, or have a checking account. Additionally, there isn't even a guarantee that DREAMers would be paid for their labor. Furthermore, some would be afraid to take public transportation or even drive a car as they feared that if asked for a government ID they didn't have, they would be detained, imprisoned, deported, or separated from their family. However, DACA allows them to gain documentation and be able to live without fear.
The Problems When DACA was First Created
The biggest issue with DACA was that Former President Obama used his executive authority to create the program, effectively bypassing Congress’s approval. Previously, Congress rejected a program similar to DACA multiple times, which questions Obama’s actions. Additionally, DACA was only meant to serve as a temporary measure to allow time for a permanent solution.
President Trump’s Decision to Rescind DACA
Due to DACA’s unconstitutional creation, Republicans from ten states threatened to sue President Donald Trump to end DACA by September 5, 2017. As a result, Trump alongside Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded DACA, stating that the program would end March 5, 2020. A six-month window, from September to March, was given to provide Congress time to legalize DACA and save the policy. Trump stated that the government would “resolve the DACA issue with heart and compassion – but through the lawful democratic process” (NBC). He additionally advised the Department of Homeland Security that DREAMers are not enforcement priorities nor should they be treated like criminals. On the contrary, Jeff Sessions slandered DACA by accusing the program of taking jobs away from American citizens and calling DREAMers “illegal aliens” (NBC).
The Supreme Court’s Ruling
On June 18, 2020, the Supreme Court blocked the attempt to rescind DACA, effectively protecting almost 700,000 DREAMers from deportation. The vote was 5-4, the ruling only commenting on the reasons for DACA’s revoking. Written by Chief Justice John Roberts, who has in the past voted on cases more liberally, the ruling stated that neither Sessions nor at the time Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Elaine Duke gave detailed reasons for the repeal. They did not address why DREAMers should be coerced out of their normal lives, and for most, the only life they have ever known. Many DREAMers are in their 20s-30s and are currently getting married, buying their first homes, obtaining degrees, and living a regular life. Not only that, but 200,000 children – who are U.S. born citizens – have parents that are DACA recipients; no plan was made on how to deal with the children’s situation nor was it considered. Additionally, the 690,000 DREAMers pay around $60 billion in taxes so there would have been great economic loss for the U.S.. For these unresolved issues with no proper grounds for repeal, the general statement (from the judges that voted for DACA) was that it appeared that the Trump Administration did not want to take responsibility of rescinding DACA and placed it within the Supreme Court’s hands. Chief Roberts has stated that DACA could be rescinded in the future, but Trump did not execute it properly this time.
For DREAMers, this decision was a relief and called for a time to rejoice! Nevertheless, DACA’s future is still up in the air. Some are concerned that President Trump would try to rescind DACA again if he is to be elected for a second term. Ken Cuccinelli, Trump’s administrative official for immigration, says that Trump is considering other options. Additionally, DREAMers are not completely safe from deportation, as DACA is still only a temporary measure. On the other hand, others warn of consequences if future presidents used their executive power to easily create new programs in the future. However, for now, DREAMers can continue to legally stay in the U.S. and live their daily lives.