Supreme Court Blocks Trump Administration From Ending DACA
June 19, 2020

In a long-anticipated ruling, the Supreme Court yesterday voted 5 to 4 to reject the Trump administration's 2017 attempt to rescind the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy. As such, the policy will continue to provide protection for some 650,000 recipients throughout the country.

But as Inside Higher Ed reported, this decision did not put in place permanent legal protections for DACA recipients and other Dreamers, those outstanding young individuals brought to this country as children, many of them college and university students.

As ACE President Ted Mitchell said in a statement, it is gratifying that the court acted decisively to keep the program in place, but Congress should act quickly “in the wake of this momentous and welcome ruling" to give permanent protection to Dreamers. “For far too long, lawmakers used the pending Supreme Court decision as an excuse for inaction."

The case involved a trio of related disputes, with ACE members Princeton University and University of California among the parties that brought the case to the court. Oral arguments were heard in November. Yesterday's decision, written by Chief Justice John Roberts and joined by the court's four liberal justices, said the administration did not follow procedures required by law and did not offer a valid justification for rescinding the policy, including properly weighing how ending it would affect those who had come to rely on its protections.

Lower courts kept DACA alive while legal challenges were ongoing, shielding hundreds of thousands of individuals from deportation. During that time, no new DACA applications were accepted. It's not yet clear whether the Trump administration will be required to resume accepting new applications, but tens of thousands of Dreamers would be eligible to apply.

The administration has criticized the decision but has not announced what it will do next. Whatever the Trump administration undertakes, it is likely there will be litigation challenging the action, which will take several years to run through the appellate process.

The Washington Post reports that in addition to DACA recipients being legally protected from deportation for the two years of their term, they can now apply to renew their status. While it seems unlikely that the Trump administration will be able to end the program before the November elections, The Post notes the administration “can choose how to treat those who already have DACA protections. For example, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) can decide whether to automatically extend protections for those whose terms are expiring, and can decide how quickly to adjudicate pending renewal applications. They will need to decide whether to accept new applications from those who are eligible but did not previously apply."

That story adds that, “meanwhile, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) can be more or less aggressive in shielding DREAMers from deportation."

All of this points to the continuing need for Congress to act now.

Last June, the House passed the latest version of the Dream Act, the American Dream and Promise Act of 2019 (H.R. 6). But the legislation has languished in the Senate. Higher education leaders, students, and others can join in our advocacy efforts by contacting your congressional delegation. For help crafting your message, see

​In the News

OPINION: Supreme Court Has Ruled on DACA, Now It's Time for Congress to Act
By ACE President Ted Mitchell
The Hill | June 20, 2020

DACA Lives for Now
Inside Higher Ed | June 19, 2020

DACA College Students Breathe a Little Easier, for Now
The Boston Globe (sub. req.) | June 19, 2020

In Support of DACA
Inside Higher Ed | June 19, 2020

Supreme Court Ruling Relieves DACA Students and Energizes Activism
The Chronicle of Higher Education | June 18, 2020

How DACA Has Transformed The Lives Of Dreamers — And Their Communities
NPR | June 18, 2020

Remember the Dreamers website logo

The Remember the Dreamers campaign is working to focus Congress on ​​finding a legislative solution for Dreamers and DACA recipients. Working together, the higher education community plays a vital role in both advocating for and assisting these young people, many of whom are students on our campuses.