700,000+ Dreamers Wait as SCOTUS Takes up DACA

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court will consider the Trump Administration’s decision to end the DACA program, which has provided a reprieve for undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children. A ruling on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program is expected next spring in the midst of the 2020 presidential election, USA Today reports.

USA Today interviews four DACA recipients from Austin, Texas – a lawyer, a teacher, a graduate student and an undergraduate gathered in a courtroom and they discuss their common dreams, nightmares and how the decision would impact their lives. It was in Austin, where Texas state officials brought the original challenge to both DACA and a failed effort by President Barack Obama to extend similar protections to 4 million undocumented parents.

The state argues in court papers that “Congress has never given the executive carte blanche to grant lawful presence to any alien it chooses not to remove, let alone benefits including work authorization, health care, unemployment, and a pathway to citizenship.”

One of the four interviewed is Pedro Villalobos, 28, a Travis County prosecuting attorney with a job at risk. Villalobos said a defeat at the Supreme Court “would end my service to this community.” He said, “I represent the state, but the state doesn’t represent me.”

“It feels, in a way, very surreal,” said Anayeli Marcos, 25, who hopes to graduate from the University of Texas’ flagship campus in May with dual master’s degrees in social work and Latin American studies. “Sometimes it’s a bit overwhelming, feeling that your fate is in the hands of people who don’t know you.”

About 80% of DACA recipients are from Mexico, nearly 10% more arrived from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Nearly 200,000 live in California, another 100,000 in Texas.

This is the third major immigration battle to reach the court. The court ultimately upheld Present Donald Trump’s travel ban, but blocked his effort this year to put a citizenship question on the 2020 census.

This is the Trump Administration’s effort to dismantle policies put in place by the Obama Administration. The president has been unable to do away with the Affordable Care Act but was more successful in ending Obama’s Clean Power Plan, his signature climate change policy.

Obama created the program without input from Congress, the Trump Administration argues that was illegal. If Trump wins, the victories may be but a bargaining chip in negotiations with Congress, in which he could offer to extend DACA protections in exchange for increased funding for a border wall with Mexico.

USA Today writes nearly every federal court to consider the question has blocked the administration from ending the DACA program. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, based in California ridiculed the effort to deport “blameless and economically productive young people with clean criminal records.”

Opposing the administration are lawyers representing California, New York, the District of Columbia and an array of “Dreamers.” Nearly three dozen legal briefs have been submitted on their side by groups representing big business, educators, religious institutions, labor unions, law enforcement and national security, along with immigration and civil rights organizations.

The Supreme Court’s willingness to hear the case signals a potential win for the White House, but how it wins would be crucial. If the justices say Trump has the same discretion to end the program that Obama had in creating it, a future president just as easily could renew it. If they agree with the Justice Department that it’s unlawful, Congress would have to step in.

About Catherine Smith

Catherine Smith is a newcomer to Washington D.C. She met, and married an American journalist and moved to D.C from the U.K. She graduated with a B.A in Graphic, Media and Communications and worked in design and retail in the U.K.

Photo: (Photo by Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images)

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