The Supreme Court in a 5 to 4 decision written by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. on Thursday morning (June 18, 2020) rejected the Trump administration’s attempt to disconnect the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
The decision is a reprieve for nearly 650,000 DACA recipients who have enjoyed protection from deportation and employment authorization since the program was announced in 2012 by President Barack Obama. The Trump administration in the past 2 ½ years claimed that the DACA program was unlawful and that the Department of Homeland Security has the right to terminate it. Three lower federal courts (Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of the University of California, Trump v. NAACP and McAleenan v. Vidal) disagreed and set the stage for the Supreme Court to issue its ruling today.
Chief Justice John Roberts, joined by the court’s four more liberal justices, agreed with the challengers in the three lower court cases that the decision to terminate DACA did not follow procedures required by law and violated the APA. Roberts reiterated that the court was not deciding “whether DACA or its recission are sound policies.” Instead, he stressed, the court addressed “only whether the agency complied with the procedural requirement that it provide a reasoned explanation for its action” – which, in the majority’s view, it did not. The solution, Roberts continued, was for the court to send the issue back to the Department of Homeland Security for it to reconsider and, if it wants to rescind the program again, for it to offer a better explanation.
For the immediate future DACA will continue and we now have to await for further action by DHS and the lower courts after the Supreme Court’s remand.