DACA Left in Place for Dreamers
• Supreme Court Opinion Authored by Chief Justice John Roberts •
Good News for Dreamers – June 18, 2020
There were about 700,000 DACA recipients at the time Trump ordered the program to wind down in September 2017.
The 5-4 opinion was authored by Chief Justice John Roberts, a conservative, and joined by the court’s liberals, Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.
Roberts reasoned that the Trump administration’s termination of the program was “arbitrary and capricious,” in violation of federal law that governs administrative procedure.
Chief Justice John Roberts Opinion
“We do not decide whether DACA or its rescission are sound policies. ‘The wisdom’ of those decisions ‘is none of our concern,’” Roberts wrote.
“We address only whether the agency complied with the procedural requirement that it provide a reasoned explanation for its action. Here the agency failed to consider the conspicuous issues of whether to retain forbearance and what if anything to do about the hardship to DACA recipients,” Roberts added. “That dual failure raises doubts about whether the agency appreciated the scope of its discretion or exercised that discretion in a reasonable manner.”
Former President Obama Speaks on DACA
Former President Barack Obama, in a tweet, wrote that eight years ago “we protected young people who were raised as part of our American family from deportation.
“Today, I’m happy for them, their families, and all of us. We may look different and come from everywhere, but what makes us American are our shared ideals,” Obama wrote.
Obama established the DACA program in 2012.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra
“If you work hard and play by the rules,
you deserve a chance to get ahead.”
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who led a coalition of 20 states and D.C. defending DACA before the top court, said in a statement that “we prevailed on behalf of every Dreamer who has worked hard to help build our country — our neighbors, teachers, doctors, and first responders.”
“The highest court in our land saw through the Trump Administration’s illegal, baseless excuses. The court agreed: If you work hard and play by the rules, you deserve a chance to get ahead,” Becerra said.
What is DACA?
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — or DACA — defers deportation proceedings for two years for qualified individuals who were brought to the United States illegally when they were children. The program also gives those who are approved work authorization, and the approvals can be renewed.
DACA was created on June 15, 2012, by then-President Barack Obama.
Why did Obama create the program?
In his 2012 announcement, Obama spoke about the failure of Congress to pass the “DREAM Act,” which would have provided a path to citizenship for certain immigrants brought to the country illegally as children. He said that in the absence of congressional action, the Department of Homeland Security would institute a temporary program to defer deportation for “eligible individuals who do not present a risk to national security or public safety.”
He called it “a temporary stopgap measure that lets us focus our resources wisely while giving a degree of relief and hope to talented, driven, patriotic young people.”
What are the eligibility requirements for DACA recipients?
Applicants to DACA have to be:
- At least 15 years old when applying but under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012
- Under the age 16 when entering the United States
- Living in the U.S. continuously since June 15, 2007
- Present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012, and at the time of applying
- In school or have graduated or completed high school, or have been honorably discharged from the military
- Not convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor or three or more other misdemeanors
DACA applicants also can’t “otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety,” according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. They couldn’t have lawful status on June 15, 2012, either.
The requirement that applicants be at least 15 years old when applying is waived for those who are in removal proceedings or had received a final removal or voluntary departure order. They can’t, however, be in immigration detention.
What’s the process for applying for DACA?
There’s a seven-page application that must be submitted along with documentation proving the applicant meets the eligibility requirements, and there’s also a form and a worksheet required for employment authorization. The total fee is $495. If the application is in order, USCIS will give applicants an appointment at a local Application Support Center to provide biometric data, including fingerprints, and USCIS will conduct background checks.
How many DACA recipients currently live in the U.S.?
As of Sept. 4, 2017, there were 689,800 DACA recipients, according to USCIS. The total number of people who have ever been approved for DACA since 2012 is 798,980. Nearly 72,000 initial applications were denied.
About 70,000 of the cumulative approvals either didn’t renew or were rejected when trying to renew. About 40,000 became lawful permanent residents.
There are more people who meet the DACA eligibility criteria. The Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank, estimates that 1.3 million met the criteria and could have applied.
There are several legislative proposals in Congress to provide a path to legal status for those who came to the United States illegally as children that would apply to larger populations (see the last question on legislation for more information).
Does DACA give recipients legal status in the U.S.?
The DACA program does not provide a path to citizenship, and even though recipients have deportation deferred, they still do not have lawful status. However, about 40,000 former DACA recipients did go on to get their green cards, becoming lawful permanent residents. How? A spokeswoman for USCIS, Claire K. Nicholson, confirmed to FactCheck.org that the 40,000 people used what’s called “advance parole,” under which DACA recipients could get permission (after applying and paying a $575 fee) to travel abroad for humanitarian, educational and employment purposes. Once they returned to the U.S., they were entering the country legally. Typically with unlawful status, an immigrant would have to return to his or her home country and apply for a green card there.
Those applying for green cards would have to be eligible under one of several categories, including family — such as marrying a U.S. citizen — and employment.
How old are the Dreamers?
The average age of DACA recipients was 25 years old last year, according to a national survey of 3,063 DACA holders in August 2017. The vast majority — 82.5 percent — were under 30.
The survey, from Tom K. Wong, an assistant professor of political science at the University of California, San Diego, found that when the DACA enrollees arrived in the United States they were 6-and-a-half years old on average, and 54 percent of them were under the age of 7.
Where do they live?
The largest concentrations of those with initial DACA approvals were in California (28 percent) and Texas (16 percent), according to USCIS. About 5 percent of initial DACA approvals came from New York; another 5 percent came from Illinois, and 4 percent came from Florida. But there have been DACA recipients from all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Northern Mariana Islands.
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