SCOTUS Decision Protects “Dreamers” from Deportation For Now, and Sets the Stage for Election Year Controversy

The Supreme Court
Facade of US Supreme court in Washington DC on sunny day

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) handed down a highly-anticipated decision yesterday, ruling that Obama-era forbearance against deporting unauthorized immigrants brought by their parents to this country as children – the “Dreamers” – stands in place for the time being.  (SCOTUSblog analysis, June 18)

  • Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the 5-4 decision in Dep’t of Homeland Security vs. Regents of the Univ. of California. The Court’s majority decided that the Trump Administration’s 2017 efforts to thwart the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, established in 2012, was a wrongful “arbitrary and capricious” action.
  • Approximately 700,000 immigrants have sought DACA protections. The program allows unauthorized foreign-born individuals who “only know this country as home” to apply for two-year forbearance on deportation, as well as work permits and eligibility for Social Security and Medicare.  A 2014 program extended similar protections to the Dreamers’ parents.”
  • The Trump Administration rescinded both programs in 2017. The high Court majority decided the rescission was illegal because, among other reasons, DHS purported to strike the entire policy – and did not consider whether the “deferred removal” elements of DACA could be retained while eliminating the “federal benefits” components.
  • Chief Justice Roberts also wrote that DHS’s rescission was arbitrary because the agency failed to consider the extent of the Dreamers’ reliance on the program, noting that DACA recipients have served in the military, enrolled in college, started businesses and careers, purchased homes, got married and had children, and paid taxes.  (Opinion at 24-25).
  • The Real Estate Roundtable last October joined an amicus brief in the case, led by the National Association of Home Builders, requesting that DACA remain in place. The brief explained the importance of the immigrant workforce to construction, hospitality, and building maintenance functions, stating that “DACA-eligible immigrants are a crucial component” of real estate jobs as 41% of them work in industries represented by the amici (Roundtable Weekly, October 18, 2019)
  • SCOTUS likewise noted the economic contributions of DACA beneficiaries: “[E]xcluding DACA recipients from the lawful labor force … [would] result in the loss of $215 billion in economic activity and an associated $60 billion in federal tax revenue over the next ten years.” (Opinion at 25)

Immigration groups heralded yesterday’s decision, but called for Congress to enact a permanent solution to protect DACA recipients. (The Hill, June 19) In what will surely become a contentious issue leading up to the November elections, President Trump tweeted today that his Administration will “be submitting enhanced paperwork shortly” to again try and rescind the program and eliminate protections afforded to the Dreamers. (USA Today, June 19)

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Roundtable Joins SCOTUS Brief in “Dreamers” Case Emphasizing Need for Immigrant Workers to Fill Essential Real Estate Jobs

U.S. Supreme Court with Flag

The Real Estate Roundtable on October 4 joined an amicus brief filed with the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS), to emphasize the critical need for foreign-born workers to fill labor shortages in construction, hospitality, building maintenance, and other real estate sector jobs. 

  • The Obama Administration established DACA in 2012.  In 2017, the Trump Administration announced its own directive to end the program – thus priming the matter for SCOTUS’s review.
  • The Roundtable’s amicus brief, led by the National Association of Home Builders, also includes the Essential Worker Immigration Coalition, representing members concerned with the shortages of lesser-skilled labor in the U.S. workforce.  The brief states, “DACA-eligible immigrants are a crucial component” of real estate jobs, as 41% of them work in industries represented by the amici.
  • The brief also explains that foreign-born workers generally are essential to fill labor shortages that constrain the productivity of the real estate workforce.  Foreign-born labor accounts for:
    • Close to 25% of construction workers, a percentage that has been rising since the Great Recession;
    • An estimated 31% of hotel and lodging, and 22% of restaurant workers;
    • As much as 25% of workers providing hands-on care to the elderly and people with disabilities; and
    • Over 35% of building and grounds cleaning and maintenance occupations.
  • The case has attracted numerous other briefs.  One brief in support of DACA was filed by a consortium of 140 companies and 18 business associations representing a broad array of industries, including retail, tech, tourism and communications.  (The Hill, Oct. 4)
  • The consortium brief included participants such as the American Hotel & Lodging Association, Hilton Worldwide, Host Hotels and Resorts, Marriott International, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and numerous Silicon Valley firms.  “By expanding the opportunities available to DACA recipients, this program has benefitted America’s companies, our Nation’s economy, and all Americans,” their brief says.

Other stakeholders filing briefs to support the DACA program include Apple, Microsoft and the government of Mexico.  (CNBC’s Closing Bell, Oct. 2 and The Hill, Oct. 4).  Oral argument is scheduled for Nov. 12 and a decision is expected by summer. (ScotusBlog, Sept. 10)

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