On Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that the Trump administration could not shut down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which would have deported 800,000 Dreamers. This will effectively derail a major part of Trump's focus on immigration issues, which has been a big part of his campaign.
Chief Justice John Roberts delivered the swing vote alongside liberal Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor and wrote the decision, which stated that the government failed to give an adequate justification for ending the federal program. "We conclude that the acting secretary did violate the [Administrative Procedure Act]," and that the decision to rescind DACA "must be vacated," Roberts wrote. In his decision, Roberts called the Trump administration's "total rescission" of DACA "arbitrary and capricious."
The general consensus of the majority opinion is that Trump broke the laws governing federal agencies when he ended DACA without addressing crucial parts of the policy. However, every justice in the majority except Sotomayor dismissed the argument that the administration’s decision to terminate DACA was motivated by discrimination against Latinx people.
In his summary, Justice Roberts that it wasn't necessarily unconstitutional for the Trump administration to terminate DACA, but the way it did so was. This means that there is room for the Department of Homeland Security to revisit the issue.
"The appropriate recourse is therefore to remand to DHS so that it may reconsider the problem anew," Roberts wrote.
Conservative Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh filed opinions that concurred with several points of the majority.
Thomas, in his dissent, wrote, "Today’s decision must be recognized for what it is: an effort to avoid a politically controversial but legally correct decision. The Court could have made clear that the solution respondents seek must come from the Legislative Branch."
"The Court still does not resolve the question of DACA’s rescission," Alito wrote in his dissent. "Instead, it tells the Department of Homeland Security to go back and try again."
Shortly after the decision was announced, Trump retweeted a screenshot of that part of Thomas' dissent. "These horrible & politically charged decisions coming out of the Supreme Court are shotgun blasts into the face of people that are proud to call themselves Republicans or Conservatives," and asked, "Do you get the impression that the Supreme Court doesn’t like me?"
Immigration lawyers argued last fall that frontline health care workers involved in responding to the coronavirus epidemic rely on about 27,000 DACA recipients, "including dentists, pharmacists, physician assistants, home health aides, technicians" and nearly 200 medical students.
"Termination of DACA during this national health emergency would be catastrophic," they said in an April 2 court filing. The Association of American Medical Colleges told the court last fall — well before the pandemic crisis — that the U.S. is unprepared "to fill the loss that would result if DACA recipients were excluded from the health care workforce."