By Lucia Leal
Washington, Jun 18 (efe-epa).- The United States’ Supreme Court on Thursday handed a victory to a group of nearly 650,000 undocumented migrants who arrived in the country as children and have been shielded from deportation under a program created in 2012 by then-President Barack Obama.
The high court’s ruling was a legal defeat for current US President Donald Trump, who has moved to end the so-called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
The decision offers at least temporary relief for DACA recipients, also known as Dreamers because they are potential beneficiaries of a bill – the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act – that has been introduced to Congress in numerous versions over nearly two decades in an effort to provide a path to citizenship for individuals brought to the US unlawfully before the age of 16.
In a narrow 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court found that Trump had not followed legally established mechanisms when he attempted to end DACA.
Trump said in September 2017 that he would end DACA unless Congress legalized it within a period of six months by passing a broad immigration package that included other issues such as enhanced border security. But the president’s plans to reverse Obama’s executive order have been blocked by lower-court rulings.
“The (Department of Homeland Security’s) decision to rescind DACA was arbitrary and capricious under the” Administrative Procedures Act, read the majority decision written by Chief Justice John Roberts, a conservative member of the court who has previously sided with its four liberal members in high-profile decisions.
The Supreme Court did not rule on the legality of DACA and said that all members of the court agree that the DHS may rescind that program.
But according to the majority decision, the agency failed to comply with the procedural requirement that it provide a reasoned explanation for its action.
“Here the agency failed to consider the conspicuous issues of whether to retain forbearance and what if anything to do about the hardship to DACA recipients,” Roberts wrote.
“That dual failure raises doubts about whether the agency appreciated the scope of its discretion or exercised that discretion in a reasonable manner. The appropriate recourse is therefore to remand to DHS so that it may consider the problem anew.”
Trump took to Twitter to slam the court’s ruling and also motivate his supporters ahead of his re-election bid in November.
“These horrible & politically charged decisions coming out of the Supreme Court are shotgun blasts into the face of people that are proud to call themselves Republicans or Conservatives. We need more Justices or we will lose our 2nd. Amendment & everything else. Vote Trump 2020!”
The DACA program – which grants Dreamers a renewable two-year work permit and a renewable two-year period of exemption from deportation, but not permanent residence or permanent legal status – was implemented by Obama as a temporary solution.
DACA renewals have continued to be processed throughout the Trump administration due to lower-court decisions, although the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) had stopped accepting new DACA applications due to the current administration’s policy shift.
Obama took executive action after Congress was repeatedly unable to come to an agreement on comprehensive immigration reform, including a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million unauthorized immigrants currently living in the US.
Trump, for his part, justified his decision to end DACA by arguing that Obama had abused his power in issuing that executive order and saying his action would press Congress to come up with a permanent solution.
He has said any major immigration legislation would have to provide funds for a wall on the US-Mexico border, a key promise to his voters during the 2016 presidential campaign but a proposal unacceptable to most Democrats in Congress.
The Supreme Court ruling requires the Trump administration to accept new DACA applications and not just renew the work permits and protection from deportation of current DACA beneficiaries, the director of the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic at Columbia Law School, Elora Mukherjee, told Efe.
If she is correct, tens of thousands of undocumented migrants who, among other requirements, were younger than 31 on June 15, 2012, came to the US when they were younger than 16 and have lived continuously in the country since June 2007 could apply for DACA protection for the first time.