The Supreme Court permanently barred the Trump administration from abruptly rescinding DACA, the program that has protected Dreamers from deportation for the last eight years.
Chief Justice John Roberts, who has recently taken up the mantle as the court's swing vote, sided with the four liberal justices and authored the majority opinion. However, the court did not make a decision on the legality of DACA but instead focused on whether the way the Trump administration chose to do it violated federal law.
"We address only whether the agency complied with the procedural requirement that it provide a reasoned explanation for its action," Roberts wrote. "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."
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is litigating a battle over the program's legality in the federal court for the Southern District of Texas, swiftly attacked the decision on Twitter.
Attorney General Ken Paxton Issues Statement on #SCOTUS Upholding DACA Program | Read a copy of the opinion here ➡️… https://t.co/lP8FiKPmPJ— Texas Attorney General (@Texas Attorney General)1592491952.0
The decision ended a nearly three-year battle over whether the Trump administration's move to abruptly end the program was "arbitrary and capricious" and therefore violating federal administrative law.
However, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in dissent that the decision gave a "green light" for fighting future legislative and policy battles in the courts rather than "where they rightfully belong"—Congress and the executive branch.
"Today's decision must be recognized for what it is: an effort to avoid a politically controversial but legally correct decision," Thomas wrote. "The court could have made clear that the solution respondents seek must come from the legislative branch."
The Obama administration created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program by executive order after giving up on Congress' ability to do so via legislation. The program allows people brought to the U.S. illegally as children to apply for temporary protection from deportation and issues them a temporary work permit. The protections last for two years and are renewable.
Around 700,000 people in the U.S. are currently protected by DACA, but it does not offer a path to citizenship. According to federal statistics, approximately 107,000 DACA recipients currently live in Texas.
The Supreme Court's decision eliminates almost any chance that a decision on the program's legality would be made before the November election.
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