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

  • June 19, 2020

U.S. Supreme Court with Flag

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  • The Trump Administration rescinded both programs in 2017.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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