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4 things you should know about the Supreme Court decision on DACA

On June 18, the Supreme Court issued a decision upholding Deferred Action for Child Arrivals (DACA), a program that protects from deportation hundreds of thousands of immigrants who came to the U.S. as children. This decision is a victory won by DACA recipients, undocumented immigrant youth, and allies who have mobilized people across the country to affirm that home is here for DACA recipients and their families. 

But the struggle isn’t over. While DACA is safe for now, the Trump administration has already announced it will continue its efforts to end the program. That means we must keep up our work for a permanent solution to protect DACA recipients from future attacks—and to create a roadmap to citizenship for all immigrants.   

Tell your senators: Protect DACA recipients and call for humane immigration policies that respect the rights and dignity of all people

Here’s what you need to know about the Supreme Court decision and how you can continue to stand with DACA recipients across the country: 

1. The Supreme Court ruled the Trump administration’s termination of DACA was unlawful. 

DACA was created in 2012 through an executive action by President Obama, following years of organizing by undocumented immigrant youth. But in 2017, the Trump administration announced it would terminate the program, jeopardizing the futures of hundreds of thousands of immigrants and their families. 

In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court stated that the Trump administration’s attempt to end DACA was “arbitrary and capricious”—a violation of a federal law known as the Administrative Procedure Act. The ruling allows DACA recipients to continue to live and work in the U.S. without being targeted for detention or deportation. 

However, the decision was narrow. The court did not address whether the creation of DACA was lawful, and the ruling leaves the door open for the Trump administration to attempt to terminate DACA again through additional legal rationale. A majority of justices also decided that the termination of DACA was not motivated by discriminatory factors.

2. The ruling is a win for DACA recipients, but it is unclear whether the administration will implement all of the requirements outlined in the decision.

The Supreme Court ruling preserves DACA status for hundreds of thousands of immigrants and may open the door for others to apply for the program. People who have or previously had DACA can continue to apply to renew their DACA status and remain eligible for related benefits. 

DACA recipients who want to renew should apply as soon as possible to avoid being caught up in the path of another attempt to terminate the program.

While the Supreme Court decision also requires the Department of Homeland Security to resume accepting new applications for DACA as well as applications for current DACA recipients to travel outside of the U.S. (known as “advanced parole”), we do not know whether the Trump administration will try to limit these options. Ultimately, people considering applying for DACA for the first time and DACA recipients who want to apply for advance parole are advised to consult an immigration lawyer or accredited representative. 

Read more guidance for DACA recipients from United We Dream.

For a list of organizations that help with DACA renewals and new applications, visit the Home is Here website.

3. The Trump administration still wants to end DACA. 

We do not know how long it will take for the Trump administration to again attempt to terminate DACA. We do know that whenever the administration attempts to end DACA again, DACA recipients will organize to counteract the decision—as well as any of the administration efforts to deport millions of other immigrants who are part of our communities. 

Following the Trump administration’s termination of DACA in 2017, more than 10 lawsuits challenging the termination were filed across the country, and multiple judges ruled that the way DACA was terminated was illegal. These decisions effectively halted the administration’s termination of DACA, allowing recipients to renew their status as legal challenges made their way to the Supreme Court.

4. Ultimately, only legislation–not litigation–can provide a permanent solution for DACA recipients and their families under attack by this administration. 

While the Supreme Court decision makes it increasingly clear that the law is on our side, we cannot slow down our efforts to protect DACA recipients and undocumented immigrant youth. 

The courts cannot solve this problem. We need legislation that keeps families and communities together. 

Bills have been introduced in Congress that would protect DACA recipients from deportation. In June 2019, the House of Representatives passed the Dream and Promise Act, a bill that would offer a roadmap to citizenship for DACA recipients and others eligible for DACA. The Senate is now considering similar legislation. 

We must continue to call on Congress to pass permanent protections for DACA recipients and all immigrants—without increasing immigrant detention, deportation, and militarization of border communities. 

Take action today! Tell your senators to protect DACA recipients and call for humane immigration policies that respect the rights and dignity of all people

About the Author

Peniel Ibe is the policy engagement coordinator at AFSC’s Office of Public Policy and Advocacy. She leads AFSC’s advocacy efforts to coordinate grassroots engagement strategies to impact policy change. She is an immigrant from Nigeria who recently relocated to the United States and is advocating for the rights of others like her.

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