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What the Recent Supreme Court Ruling Means for DACA

Understanding the Supreme Court June 2020 Decision

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, is no stranger to legal challenges, having been contested in various maneuvers since its enaction in 2012 by the Obama administration. The DACA program aims to grant undocumented immigrants who entered the country unlawfully as children the ability to remain and work in the United States, though its highly specific, time-sensitive requirements have meant the pool of eligible beneficiaries has not grown since the program’s adoption. In 2014, efforts by the Obama administration to loosen those eligibility requirements were cut short. Ultimately, a split Supreme Court resulted in the standing of a lower court decision enjoining the attempted expansion of the program.

In 2017, President Donald Trump attempted to end the DACA program, halting the acceptance and processing of new applications while winding down the renewal of existing permits. The administration did leave a six-month window of opportunity for Congress to create a more permanent legislative equivalent to the program, though the Republican-controlled bodies did not act. Legal challenges asserted that Trump could not unilaterally end the program, making its way through the judicial system until finally arriving at the Supreme Court for arguments in 2019. All the while, DACA recipients and would-be applicants were left in limbo.

On June 18, 2020, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 against the Trump administration, declaring that the manner in which Trump attempted to terminate the DACA program was unlawful. Chief Justice John Roberts joined the Court’s liberal justices in the ruling.

This decision restores the DACA program for now. Eligible immigrants can now apply for DACA status, and existing DACA beneficiaries can once again file for renewal of their status. It remains unclear if those with DACA status will be able to reenter the country should they travel abroad, though restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic may make such travel difficult regardless.

However, it is important to understand that while the Supreme Court did rule against the shutdown of DACA, it only did so in this instance. The Court’s opinion asserts the way the Trump administration attempted to end the DACA program was the objectionable issue, not the act of rescinding the program itself.

In fact, the opinion suggests the Trump administration could potentially try again through an executive action. Many have theorized that President Trump will avoid another attempt to halt the popular program during an election year, but DACA is still inherently vulnerable. To avoid an executive action attempt to dismantle it now or in the future or would require a more permanent legislative solution.

Latest update:

As of July 28, 2020, the Trump administration has retaliated against the Supreme Court's ruling by announcing that any new DACA applications will be rejected while they seek new directions to end the program. According to a memo issued from the Department of Homeland Security, current DACA recipients may renew their status but only for one year instead of two as the administration conducts a "comprehensive review." A timeline for the review has not been released, leaving many to wonder if the program will stay in effect beyond the presidential election in November.

Struggling with DACA? We Can Help.

The DACA program can be a powerful tool in keeping families together in the United States. We at The Alagiri Immigration Law Firm understand that navigating our country’s immigration system alone can be both confusing and intimidating. That is why we are devoted to helping immigrants throughout California. We have earned numerous awards as a result of our passionate advocacy, including the Best Immigration Law Firm in California.

If you need guidance with the application renewal materials, we may be able to help. Call (650) 931-2509 or contact us online to request a consultation today.