In a 5 to 4 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court today ruled that President Donald Trump's administration violated the Administrative Procedures Act when it decided to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
The Trump administration had argued that it acted lawfully in rescinding the program and that the Supreme Court had no jurisdiction to review its decision to end DACA. A majority of the Justices rejected those arguments.
The Supreme Court explained that the Trump administration's actions were arbitrary and capricious because it failed to make a reasonable assessment of how to effectuate the termination of the program ordered by the U.S. Attorney General.
According to the Supreme Court, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke was required to evaluate whether individuals in DACA had reliance interests, determine whether they were significant, and weigh any such interests against competing policy concerns. Examples of reliance interests are building businesses, attending college, working legally in the United States, and acquiring property.
The Supreme Court rejected arguments that the Trump administration's actions violated the Fifth Amendment's equal protection guarantee. They also found no evidence of racial discrimination in the federal government's actions.
The Supreme Court did not rule on the constitutionality of DACA - that is, whether it is a legal program or not - or whether termination of the program is good federal government policy.
The Supreme Court remanded the case to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to reconsider its decision to terminate DACA and, if it wants to rescind the program again, to provide a better explanation for its decision. In addition, the Supreme Court ordered that the cases be returned to their respective federal courts for further proceedings.
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Significance of the court decision and recommendations
The Supreme Court ruling allows the DACA program to remain in effect.
Immigrants currently enrolled in DACA can re-enroll in the program and obtain a work permit if they meet all the necessary requirements.
However, the litigants in the case decided today by the Supreme Court agree that the federal government can rescind DACA in the future, as long as it follows the proper procedures established by law.
DACA is an immigration benefit temporarywhich does not currently lead to permanent residency. It is likely that the program will end in the future and it is important that anyone currently enrolled in DACA immediately consult with an immigration attorney to discuss their legal options.
Decision Could Allow Initial DACA Enrollments
The Supreme Court's ruling could open the door for people who meet all the requirements, but are not currently enrolled in the DACA program, to do so. DHS, which oversees U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), will provide information in the future on how it will implement the Supreme Court's ruling and whether it will allow initial enrollment.
Beware of immigration fraud
The DACA decision gives hope to people who had not been able to register for the first time for the program. But immigration agencies have not yet given notice that they can register. Be very careful of people who claim otherwise and ask you for large sums of money to do a procedure that cannot be done at the moment, or offer you to register for DACA even if you do not qualify.
Beware of immigration fraud and do not seek legal advice from notarios, immigration consultants, multiservices or paper pushers. These people are not allowed by law to give legal advice and could jeopardize your immigration cases because they do not have the necessary knowledge or the necessary permits to practice law.
President Barack Obama created DACA in 2012, authorizing through executive action to grant temporary protection from deportation and work permits to certain immigrants who arrived in the country before the age of 16.
Several states opposed the immigration relief and joined together to file a lawsuit arguing the illegality of the executive action.
President Trump ordered the cancellation of DACA in 2017, but federal courts in California, MarylandNew York, New York, Texas and Washington, D.C. blocked the elimination of DACA.
The Supreme Court of the United States agreed to review President Donald Trump's administration's appeal of the legality of its decision to end DACA and heard arguments for and against the program last year.