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Supreme Court to Review DACA Policy Protecting Young Undocumented Immigrants

July 01, 2019

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​The U.S. Supreme Court announced Friday that it will review the Trump administration's decision to end the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, which provides temporary legal status and protection from deportation for nearly 800,000 young people.

DACA will reportedly get a one-hour hearing before the high court in a trio of related disputes—Trump v. NAACP, Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of the University of California, and McAleenan v. Vidal— in the next term, which begins on the first Monday in October. ACE members Princeton University and University of California are among the parties, and ACE will be organizing and submitting an association amicus brief to the court in the consolidated appeal.

President Obama established the DACA policy by executive action in June 2012. DACA allowed undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States at a young age to become eligible for a work permit, a Social Security card, a driver’s license, and deferred deportation. About 350,000 young people with DACA status are in school or pursuing higher education.

The Trump administration rescinded the policy Sept. 5, 2017, but delayed ending it until March 5, 2018. In granting a six-month delay, the president asked Congress to pass legislation to provide a permanent solution for those currently protected under DACA. Congress has not yet acted, but DACA in the years since has been kept alive by court decisions, leaving these individuals in political and legal limbo. 

In a statement on the court’s decision, ACE President Ted Mitchell said it “only underscores the urgent need for Congress to act now to pass a long-term, bipartisan solution to protect Dreamers. Because it could easily be a year before we have a final decision by the Court, this is not an excuse for inaction by lawmakers.” 

The potential year-long wait would put a potential ruling in the heart of the 2020 presidential election. 

Mitchell also sent a letter last week on behalf of 43 organizations to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) requesting they make passage of legislation providing permanent protections for Dreamers a priority.

Earlier this year, Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) reintroduced the bipartisan Dream Act of 2019 (S. 874), a bill that would allow many Dreamers to earn lawful permanent residence in the United States and a path to citizenship. The House last month approved its own Dream Act bill—the American Dream and Promise Act (H.R. 6)—that would provide a long-term legislative fix for Dreamers, as well as those with Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Enforced Departure, who have seen their status rescinded and also live in uncertainty. 

ACE and many in the higher education community would be satisfied to see the Senate take up and approve either version, as long as they move quickly.

For more information on DACA and Dreamers, see the Protect Dreamers Higher Education Coalition webpage. 

Note: Dreamers is shorthand for undocumented young people brought to the United States as children and raised as Americans, named for the DREAM (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) Act first introduced in Congress in 2001 but never enacted. Some—but not all—of these individuals have DACA status.

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