Court Battles

DACA supporters celebrate and prepare: ‘We know this is temporary’

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The Supreme Court’s decision to block President Trump’s order to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was received with a sigh of relief from the program’s beneficiaries and their supporters, but immigrant rights activists are gearing up for the long haul.

The 5-4 decision effectively sent back to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Trump’s executive order to do away with DACA with an opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts. 

“The dispute before the Court is not whether [Department of Homeland Security] may rescind DACA. All parties agree that it may. The dispute is instead primarily about the procedure the agency followed in doing so,” wrote Roberts.

Although the decision means the Trump administration could quickly rewrite its executive order and try again, dozens of DACA supporters grouped outside the Supreme Court by late morning Thursday.

“It feels light, it feels right, it feels like the work of immigrant young people, United We Dream, our allies and partners was worthwhile and it also feels like we’re ready for more,” said Greisa Martínez Rosas, a DACA recipient and deputy executive director of United We Dream, an immigrant youth advocacy group.

Martínez was a celebrity outside the courthouse steps, balancing her time joining the crowd’s chants in English and Spanish and back-to-back media interviews.

For hundreds of thousands of Dreamers — undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children — the long Supreme Court decision period was a difficult time, where any week the court could announce a permanent end to their right to remain in the country where many have spent most of their lives.

With a conservative majority on the court, many Dreamers were bracing for a decision upholding Trump’s 2017 order and an instant upheaval of their lives and livelihoods.

That’s why a potentially temporary favorable decision was received both as a clean victory and a call to arms. 

“[Trump] has the power to go back and end it in a different way, so we know that this is temporary, but today we’re going to celebrate it, tomorrow we’re going to make sure that he knows that he better not touch the DACA program. Even if he does, we’re going to take him out in November,” said Martínez.

Martínez added that DACA activists would for the time being set their target on supporting the Black Lives Matter movement in redirecting police funding, including from immigration authorities like Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

“Tomorrow we’re going to join into the actions of Juneteenth calling for the defunding of the police, of ICE and CBP, and we’re ready to ensure that Donald Trump no longer is in the White House,” said Martínez, surrounded by protesters wearing monarch butterfly wings — a symbol of Dreamers — and sporting Black Lives Matter logos on their protest signs.

The decision puts pressure on campaigning politicians, including the president, and Congress to decide whether to leave the court’s decision in place or act on DACA ahead of a contested election.

A survey released Wednesday by the Pew Research Center showed that three quarters of American adults support granting permanent status to Dreamers and other undocumented immigrants. 

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), a prominent supporter of a path to citizenship for Dreamers, paid the activists a visit outside the Supreme Court. 

“The Supreme Court is going to be here long after this president, and they are making decisions that reflect on their view of the law but also the reputation of the Supreme Court,” Durbin told reporters.

Durbin admitted he’s worried the administration could amend its order until it clears the Court, as it did with the travel ban that was originally shot down in 2017. 

“I am worried about that, that’s why I’ve called on the White House: Lay off DACA for the remainder of this year, at least let a new president come in and address this. Or, Congress take it up, that’s what we do for a living. We’ve got a bill from the House, let’s act on it,” said Durbin, referring to the American Dream and Promise Act, which passed the House in June 2019.

Asked whether it’s possible for Congress to take up immigration legislation in an election year, Durbin replied, “Everything is possible.” 

Tags DACA Dick Durbin Donald Trump
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