A narrowly divided Supreme Court extended Thursday a life-support line to some 650,000 so-called “Dreamers,” allowing them to remain safe from deportation for now, while the Trump administration jumps through the administrative hoops that the court said are required before ending the DACA program.
The vote was 5-to-4, with Chief Justice John Roberts casting the decisive fifth vote that sought to bridge the liberal and conservative wings of the court.
Roberts and the court’s four liberal justices said the Department of Homeland Security’s decision to rescind DACA was arbitrary and capricious under the Administrative Procedure Act.
In his opinion, Roberts wrote: “The appropriate recourse is therefore to remand to DHS so that it may reconsider the problem anew.”
The Supreme Court decision has been highly anticipated in California which has the most DACA recipients of any state — about 200,000.
It is perhaps no surprise then that DACA has high levels of support in the state. A 2018 Public Policy Institute of California poll found that 81% of likely voters in California favor the protections offered by DACA.
The looming court decision had been weighing heavily on DACA recipients like Christine Park, who told LAist last week that she was feeling stressed already by reports of police brutality and the pandemic.
“I’m not gonna lie to you,” said the 27-year-old Park who was brought to the U.S. from South Korea by her parents when she was 10. “I have not been coping well.”
But another DACA recipient, Rodrigo Mijangos Aguilar, told LAist last week that however the justices were to rule, he was still optimistic that strong public support for DACA recipients will lead to a permanent solution approved by Congress.
He said he can’t imagine being deported to Mexico, from where his parents brought him when he was just a little over a year old.
“If I get thrown into that environment, I don’t know how well I would do,” said Mijangos Aguilar, who is 28. “I don’t know how well my peers would do. And it’s an inhumane thing to do.”
Local organizations like the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, known as CHIRLA, and the Korean Resource Center had been recommending that immigrants whose DACA status is expiring in the next year still renew. The thinking ahead of the decision was that even if the Supreme Court ruled unfavorably, this could build some room for their DACA protections to be phased out, rather than ended overnight.
Today CHIRLA again urged DACA recipients to renew, warning that Trump can still act to end the program if there is no legislation that lets them stay permanently.
“Today, people with DACA have a second chance; we have some breathing room now, but we re-commit today to nothing less than comprehensive immigration reform for everyone — no carve-outs, no exceptions, no deals,” said Angélica Salas, CHIRLA’s executive director.
— NINA TOTENBERG | NPR, WITH CONTRIBUTIONS FROM JOSIE HUANG
This report is reprinted with permission from Southern California Public Radio. © 2020 Southern California Public Radio. All rights reserved.