The controversial Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals was argued before the Supreme Court on Nov. 12, and observers say justices’ questions suggest that they will allow President Trump to carry out his plans to kill it and begin deporting foreign-born people who have lived in this country since they were children.
Congress members, therefore, should redouble their efforts to address the issue legislatively.
More importantly, with congressional and presidential primaries just a few months away, voters should endeavor to elect legislators who are committed to enacting real immigration reform.
Trump for years has claimed that he had to do away with DACA because it was illegal and unconstitutional.
Administration attorneys changed their argument before the Supreme Court, saying that they would not address the legality.
Rather, they made the argument that the decision is up to the president’s discretion; simply, he has the power to do it.
Challenging DACA’s legality hasn’t worked before three lower appellate courts, all of which ruled against the administration. Before the high court, Solicitor General Noel Francisco said that then-President Barack Obama initiated the program in 2012 using his discretionary powers as president, and that President Trump has equal powers to end it.
A ruling is expected next summer.
When attorneys for pro-DACA plaintiffs noted that earlier arguments were based on then-Attorney General Jeff Session’s memo declaring DACA illegal, Francisco replied that even if it is legal, the president has the authority to end it and he has chosen to do so.
That would end the legal status of some 700,000 people who have registered to utilize the program’s sanction to attend school, find jobs and enjoy other benefits of legal residency.
They include many Rio Grande Valley residents.
Members of the court’s conservative majority seemed receptive to Francisco’s argument. Justice Samuel Alito transferred the argument to a different, hypothetical case, asking that if one president decides not to prosecute drug cases involving less than five kilos of cocaine, couldn’t another president change the bar to three kilos?
It’s important to remember that Obama created DACA as a stopgap measure after Congress repeatedly failed to pass legislation that would offer legal residency to people who have been in this country since they were children, for whom their natal countries is just as foreign as it is to most other Americans.
The bill is called the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, and those affected are still commonly called Dreamers.
Despite his opposition to DACA, Trump has indicated that he would sign the legislation if Congress passed it. Several public opinion polls show that roughly 70 percent of the American public, representing both Democrats and Republicans, support allowing Dreamers to petition for legal status.
These are the people Congress members were elected to represent.
The DREAM Act has languished in Congress since 2001. The bill’s supporters should be able to cut through the demagoguery and rework the act into something that will make it to the president’s desk.
The ultimate decision is better made by the people, through their representatives, than by a simple Supreme Court majority.