U.S. Supreme Court justices seemed inclined to let President
Hearing arguments Tuesday in Washington, the justices suggested they will be ideologically divided in the case, with at least the court’s five conservatives backing the Trump administration.
The case marks a pivotal moment in Trump’s two-year campaign to unravel former President
“I assume that was a very considered decision,” Kavanaugh said.
Some of the liberal justices indicated they will vote to block Trump. Justice
“And so he hasn’t and, instead, he’s done this,” Sotomayor said. “And that, I think, is something to be considered before you rescind a policy.“
Trump suggested Tuesday that a ruling in his favor would force Democrats to negotiate a way to keep the DACA recipients in the country. “A deal will be made with Dems for them to stay!” Trump tweeted.
Trump also said in the tweet that some DACA recipients are “very tough, hardened criminals.” But under the program’s rules, DACA applicants can’t have been convicted of a felony or serious misdemeanor or pose a threat to national security or public safety.
The Supreme Court dispute is timed to be decided during the heart of next year’s presidential campaign, underscoring the stakes for the divisive subject of immigration and for the court itself.
It’s the third time in as many terms the Supreme Court has weighed a major Trump administration initiative, following rulings that upheld the president’s travel ban and blocked the use of a question about citizenship in the 2020 census.
The administration is challenging lower court rulings that blocked it from rescinding the DACA program. Universities, labor unions, Democratic-led states,
The administration moved to rescind DACA in September 2017 in the face of a threatened challenge to the program by Republican-led states. At the time, the administration said it agreed with those states that the program went beyond Obama’s authority under the federal immigration laws.
Trump’s team has since tried to supplement that legal rationale with additional reasons based on policy grounds. In a June 2018 memo, Nielsen said the administration believed a case-by-case approach would be wiser than DACA’s exemption of a broad category of people from immigration enforcement.
Critics say the three-page memo was after the fact and didn’t show any real effort to grapple with the potential implications.
“The administration did not want to own this decision,”
U.S. Solicitor General
More than 660,000 people had active DACA status as of June 30, and they had an average age of 25 1/2, according to government data. A 2017 study found that 91% of DACA recipients were employed, and 45% were enrolled in school. They arrived in the U.S. at an average age of 6 1/2, and the vast majority were born in Mexico.
Defenders of DACA say it’s simply a broad exercise of the president’s accepted power to set priorities in deciding who should be deported. The DACA program offers successful applicants a renewable two-year shield from deportation and the right to apply for work permits.
“Everybody agrees you have to prioritize,” Justice
In defending DHS’s conclusion that DACA is illegal, the administration points to a 2015 decision from a New Orleans-based federal appeals court. That ruling blocked a related Obama-era program, known as Deferred Action for Parents of Americans, which would have shielded as many as 4 million undocumented immigrants whose children are either U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents.
The DAPA case then went to a shorthanded Supreme Court, which divided 4-4, upholding the ruling without setting a nationwide precedent.
Roberts suggested Tuesday that litigation gave the Trump administration adequate grounds for canceling DACA.
“You’ve got a court of appeals decision affirmed by an equally divided Supreme Court,” Roberts said. “Can’t he just say that’s the basis on which I’m making this decision?“
A ruling in the Trump administration’s favor wouldn’t necessarily mean all, or even any, of the Dreamers would be deported. Before the courts intervened, the administration was trying to wind down the program gradually, barring people from renewing their status after a specified date but not challenging their current rights.
A loss for Trump at the Supreme Court could leave room for him to try again to rescind DACA using a different explanation, though he might be hard-pressed to do so before the 2020 election.
The lead case is Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of the University of California, 18-587.
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