The Trump administration secured a Supreme Court stay of proceedings last week, successfully brushing off a California challenge to the president’s repeal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, an Obama-era executive order that grants protection against deportation to undocumented immigrants brought into the country as minors.
The high court’s justices were predictably divided along party lines, with the Republican justices in favor of the stay and Democrat justices dissenting on the grounds that the government has “not come close to” meeting its burden.
Writing in dissent, Justice Stephen Breyer said, “The court today abandons its practice of nonintervention in this kind of discovery-related dispute. In addition to disrupting the progress of this litigation, I fear that the court’s decision to intervene here means we will be asked to address run-of-the-mill discovery disputes in many other matters, certainly when the government is involved and potentially when it is not involved. In my view, the court should maintain its usual policy of abstaining from disputes like this one.”
The government drew the court challenge in California after the White House announced in September that it would scrap the program on March 5, 2018.
It’s estimated that more than 800,000 immigrants have DACA status, which allows them to apply for temporary and renewable work permits, as well as driver’s licenses—essentially the basic tools to start life anew in the U.S.
Throughout the campaign period, President Trump had repeatedly promised to scrap DACA as part of his crackdown on undocumented immigrants. But after winning the presidency, he expressed sympathy towards DACA beneficiaries, often referred to as DREAMers (after an unsuccessful bill with the same provisions of DACA), promising g to come up with a win-win solution for everyone.
But in September this year, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the program would be repealed, but delayed the decision from taking into effect by 6 months, which would give Congress time to come up with legislation to replace DACA.
California, among other concerned parties, promptly challenged the program rollback, arguing that the government failed to comply with policy justifications in the Administrative Procedure Act in doing away with the program. The challenge met some legal success, with U.S. District Judge William Alsup issuing preliminary victories and ordering the government to produce the full record of communications leading up to the decision to abolish the DACA.
Breyer has expressed particular distaste for the government’s choice of submitted documents, arguing that a legal review of such caliber cannot be based exclusively “documents that the government itself unilaterally selected for submission to the District Court.”
The government fired back, claiming that the documents it decided to submit for review are entirely up to its discretion.
Breyer responds that he is “not aware of any precedent supporting the government’s position” and that, in such a scenario, “judicial review cannot function.”
In the meantime, Congress has kept busy trying to come up with alternative immigration programs to accommodate DACA beneficiaries and provide them a path to citizenship.
If you, or a loved one, are under DACA status and want to discuss your legal options should the worst happen, don’t hesitate to schedule a consultation with the legal team of the Lyttle Law Firm.