Justices rule against Trump bid to end Obama-era immigration program

Advocates for immigrants with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, rally in front of the U.S. Supreme Court June 15, 2020 in Washington, DC.

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The Supreme Court ruled against President Donald Trump on Thursday in a set of cases over his effort to end the Obama-era immigration program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. 

The opinion was authored by Chief Justice John Roberts, a conservative, and joined by the court’s four liberals.  Roberts reasoned that the Trump administration’s termination of the program was “arbitrary and capricious,” in violation of federal law that governs administrative procedure. 

“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,” he added. “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. That dual failure raises doubts about whether the agency appreciated the scope of its discretion or exercised that discretion in a reasonable manner.”

The program shields certain young immigrants from deportation and allows them to receive work permits. There were about 700,000 DACA recipients at the time Trump ordered the program to wind down in September 2017. 

DACA, and the young immigrants it shields known as “Dreamers,” are broadly popular among the public, and Trump has shied away from arguing against the program as a matter of policy. 

A Politico/Morning Consult survey conducted earlier this month showed that a majority of those who voted for Trump in 2016 supported protecting Dreamers from deportation. Among registered voters overall, more than 75% said DACA recipients should be allowed to remain in the United States. 

Rather than challenge the program on policy grounds, Trump and attorneys for his administration have argued that former President Barack Obama lacked the legal authority to implement the program in the first place. 

On several occasions, Trump has floated the idea that he would seek a deal with Democrats on the immigration program if the Supreme Court allowed him to terminate it. 

“Rest assured that if the SC does what all say it must, based on the law, a bipartisan deal will be made to the benefit of all,” Trump wrote in a post on Twitter last year, referring to the Supreme Court. 

The administration’s argument that Obama lacked the authority to implement DACA did not hold up in lower courts. Trump’s efforts to halt the program were stopped by courts in New York, Washington, D.C., and California. 

The cases are Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of the University of California, No. 18-587, Donald Trump v. National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, No. 18-588 and Kevin McAleenan v. Martin Jonathan Batalla Vidal, No. 18-589.

This is breaking news. Check back for updates. 

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