By Sharat G. Lin, a SJPJC Coordinating Council Member
Any day now the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to issue a decision on the future of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) that will profoundly affect the legal status of some 650,000 DACA recipients, including some 23,000 in Santa Clara County. The decision could either reaffirm the constitutionality of the DACA program or allow the Trump administration to proceed with rescinding the program.
Immigrant rights organizations across the country have vowed to respond to the Supreme Court decision either to celebrate or denounce it, depending on the outcome. In the South Bay and Central Valley, SIREN (Services, Immigrant Rights and Education Network) is taking the lead in calling for car caravan actions in local cities at 5 pm on the day of the decision.
DACA recipients are young people who were brought to the U.S. by their parents without papers when they were children or even as infants. Most have known no country other than the United States. As DACA recipients, they are being granted two-year deferrals from possible deportation proceedings, but these must be renewed every two years at considerable expense. As undocumented immigrants, they become eligible for a work permit, but remain ineligible for direct federal safety net assistance.
In the face of the failure of Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform over a period of many years, President Obama issued an executive order to initiate the DACA program on June 15, 2012. The program was an attempt to provide relief from the uncertainty and insecurity of possible deportation for young people as students and to enable them to start their careers. It was intended as a bridge to give Congress time to further debate a permanent legislative solution for the 10.5 million undocumented immigrants in the United States at that time, including providing many with a pathway to legal residency or citizenship.
Unfortunately, DACA was fraught with fervent opposition from the start as anti-immigrant sentiment began to coalesce, riding on a resurgence of right-wing nationalism and racism that ultimately led to the Trump electoral wave in 2016. Many lawsuits were filed against the program, beginning in August 2012. In November 2014, when President Obama announced an expansion of DACA to include additional undocumented youths, multiple lawsuits were filed, including by Republican-controlled states, to block implementation. President Trump rescinded the expansion in June 2017 and in September 2017 announced a plan to phase out DACA entirely — only to be blocked by the courts.
Many cases have been heard in various federal courts with no final resolution, including the Supreme Court’s divided decision in United States v. Texas in 2016, effectively allowing the program to continue as other litigations proceeded. The U.S. Supreme Court finally accepted to reconsider the case by consolidating three cases challenging the Department of Homeland Security’s authority to administratively phase out DACA. The three cases are Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of the University of California, Trump v. NAACP, and McAleenan v. Vidal. The Supreme Court has pledged to rule on this consolidated case between May and July of 2020.
Stay tuned for the announcement! Our community is at stake! Defend DACA!
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