DACA Legal Battle to head directly to Supreme Court

Immigration march

On Tuesday, January 16th, 2018, the US Department of Justice made a press release, stating their plan to take a case currently being heard by the 9th Circuit of the US Court of Appeals regarding the DACA program directly to the Supreme Court before a judgment is made by the Court of Appeal. This rare move is a preemptive legal strategy by the DoJ to receive a faster judgment on the matter as the federal government moves forward with their plans to overhaul immigration reform.

The DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) is a program put into place under the Obama administration in 2012 to protect immigrants who were brought into the US by their parents when they were children. The intention of this program was to provide temporary protection as well as a path to citizenship to people living in the US from being deported to a country to which they did not have a significant connection, as they were brought in and raised in the US.

Proponents of the White House’s plan to end the DACA program have argued that it has been abused, by allowing illegal immigrants to benefit from a government-funded program simply based on their age upon entering the US. In addition, President Obama never consulted with Congress before implementing it, a move President Trump called unconstitutional and an overreach of executive power in an issued statement in September when announcing plans to rescind the DACA.

Advocates for the DACA, however, question President Trump’s powers to do so. Approximately 800,000 “Dreamers” currently living in the US currently benefit from this program. In a ruling from Tuesday, January 9th, 2018, California federal judge, William Alsup, had previously blocked the government’s rescission of the DACA program. Judge Alsup ruled that Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s argument that President Obama had lacked the authority to create the program was based on a flawed premise. Discretionary powers given to federal agencies, Judge Alsup ruled, must be exercised with valid reasons and justification.

In October, the ACLU filed to sue for the proposed changes. Revoking the program would leave the 800,000 Dreamers currently benefiting from the program vulnerable and would effectively deny them the right to due process granted to all individuals under the Constitution. Without a replacement program, Congress would be leaving them without a legal path to citizenship. Instead, Congress would allow the NHS and ICE to punish these Dreamers for the decisions their parents made for them when they were children.

This blog post was written by a CCLA-PBSC RightsWatch student. Views expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCLA or PBSC

About the Author

Nathan Prendergast
Nathan is a second year in the JD program at the University of Windsor Faculty of Law.