Supreme Court has ruled on DACA, now it's time for Congress to act

Supreme Court has ruled on DACA, now it's time for Congress to act

It is gratifying that the U.S. Supreme Court has acted decisively to keep in place the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, and in doing so protected DACA recipients, those outstanding young individuals who contribute so much to our country. As the justices noted, the Trump administration’s decision to rescind DACA was arbitrary and capricious and failed to give the justification needed to terminate the program. 

The decision upholds a number of lower court judgments keeping DACA in place providing temporary legal status and protection from deportation for nearly 800,000 undocumented young people brought to the United States as children, some of the individuals known as Dreamers. 

But now, in the wake of this momentous and welcome ruling, Congress must finally act to give permanent legislative protection to Dreamers and ensure that by statute they are guaranteed the ability to remain in the only country most of these bright, talented, and productive young people have ever called home.

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Indeed, recall that when President TrumpDonald John Trump Trump responds to calls to tear down monuments with creation of 'National Garden' of statues Trump: Children are taught in school to 'hate their own country' Trump accuses those tearing down statues of wanting to 'overthrow the American Revolution' MORE announced in September 2017 that he was rescinding DACA, he also postponed the action for six months to give Congress time to pass a bipartisan legislative solution. 

Now, with a Supreme Court decision in hand, it is time for the President and Congress to demonstrate that they do not want to see harm come to these outstanding individuals who attend our schools and universities, work and pay taxes, and serve in our military. During the pandemic, thousands of Dreamers have been at the front lines as health care workers and supplying other COVID-19 essential services. 

Responsible executive action can only go so far. To secure the future of Dreamers today and going forward, Congress must act. 

As they are wont to do, many lawmakers had been using the wait for a Supreme Court decision as an excuse for inaction. That left all these high-achieving young people languishing in unacceptable legal and political limbo. Lawmakers should not now turn the tables and embrace the judiciary’s bold ruling as a reason for Congress still failing to act.

There has long been consistent, widespread, and bipartisan support for protecting Dreamers both on Capitol Hill and on Main Street. In an era of intense partisan acrimony and polarization, it’s hard to think of many issues on which so many people from all walks of life agree.

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Just this month, a CBS News poll found that 85 percent of Americans, including 73 percent of Republicans and 84 percent of independents, favor letting DACA recipients stay in the U.S. A Politico/Morning Consult poll a few days ago showed similar support, including the finding that “Even 69 percent of those who voted for Trump in 2016—when he vowed to deport Dreamers — say they should be protected.”

It’s time for Congress to move swiftly to lift the cloud of fear and uncertainty that Dreamers have been living under by passing a permanent legislative fix that will enable these exceptional individuals to keep contributing their best to America. The House did this last year with the passage of the American Dream and Promise Act, but the Senate then failed to follow suit.

There is no more time to waste. The Supreme Court has done the right thing. There are no more political or moral excuses for failing to act. Protect the Dreamers and do it now. 

Ted Mitchell is the president of the American Council on Education (ACE).