Dreamers in for uphill fight on DACA

Updated: Dec 18, 2019

Arguments began Nov. 12 as Supreme Court Justices hear a case that could leave thousands of Dreamers stateless.

By Solomon Smith, Managing Editor

Photo by Solomon Smith/The Valley Star

Three cases seeking to keep DACA alive arrived at the Supreme Court and many are concerned that a right leaning court could end protections for Dreamers.

Opening statements began Nov. 12 as counsel plead their cases for the fate of the DACA program. Martin Batalla Vidal, a named party in McAleenan v. Vidal, is an undocumented immigrant living in New York and one of the five originators of the Vidal suit. He explained his thoughts on the case in an interview with Amy Goodman from Democracy Now.

“We couldn’t believe that undocumented were suing the government,” said Vidal, “for fighting for something that we think is right.”

In a 2017 memo cancelling the program, the Trump administration argued that the program is unconstitutional. They have not been able to provide adequate explanation as to how it is unconstitutional. Lower courts from California, New York and Maryland disagreed. As the case worked its way up to the Supreme Court, Trump continued to attack the law through Twitter.

“President Obama said that he did not have the right to sign DACA, that it will never hold up in court. He signed it anyway,” tweeted Trump. “If the Supreme Court upholds DACA, it gives the President extraordinary powers, far greater than ever thought.”

Defenders claim it was a political stunt designed to garner support from the president’s base and violates the Administrative Procedure Act. In the same Democracy Now interview, Trudy Rebert, from the National Immigration Law Center, called the White House defense “unreasoned.” Her organization has its own suit before the Supreme Court on the same issue. She was, however, cautious about the outcome.

“I think we’ll have to wait and see what the decision says when it comes out,” said Rebert. “I was really struck that I think the justices across the court really understood the human interests that are at stake here.”

During the opening statements, Justice Sonya Sotomayor made it plain how she saw the case.

“This is not about the law,” said Sotomayor, according to the Washington Post. “This is about our choice to destroy lives.”

During President Barack Obama’s administration, it all began with a presidential announcement on June 15, 2012. Congress refused to move on the issue of Dreamers, illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as minors, and Obama moved to create special rules for them. Dreamers would apply for exceptions allowing them to go to school, hold jobs and generally operate out of the shadows. Their Dreamer status has to be renewed every two years. The Trump administration rescinded DACA as part of an effort to crack down on immigration.

The case will not only determine the fate of about 689,800 “active DACA recipients as of Sept. 4, 2017” according to Fact Check.org, but could also set the tone for the current wide-ranging immigration fight. The White House has implemented new rules and sanctions limiting the number of refugees, cracking down on legal and illegal immigration. If DACA is removed, Trump could wield the fate of Dreamers as a bargaining chip over Democratic rivals. A Pew Research Center Poll shows the majority of Americans — 67 percent of those asked — want to find a solution that helps Dreamers stay legally.

Justices are expected to vote along party lines, with Justice Robert Kavanaugh remaining the likely swing vote. Protesters amassed outside the steps of the Supreme Court, Dreamers worried about their future, and protests continue throughout the country. Support for these cases has garnered scores of amicus briefings, according to SCOTUSblog.com.

Valley College had hopeful messages about DACA written on sidewalks in front of the Community Center Building. The messages were part of a movement across the LACCD to show support for thse affected according to Javier Carbajal-Ramos, the Dream Resource Center counselor.

“We want to help those students be prepared by knowingthier rights,” said Carbojal-Ramos.

He also points out the greater support of the LACCD. Chancellor Francisco Rodriguez has consistently shown his support for DACA students through public letters of support.

Decisions for these cases are not expected until the spring session of 2020.

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