April 2, 2021
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The Supreme Court blocks an attempt to end one of the most significant immigration policies in recent years.

What Is DACA?

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals

The program put in place under the Obama administration, allows *some* who came to U.S. illegally before age 16 to “defer” their illegal status & obtain work permits IF they meet certain qualifications (i.e. graduated from high school, no felony convictions).


  • 2012: nearly 800,000 young people granted work permits & temporary protection from deportation. NO pathway to citizenship. Critics say it rewards illegal immigration, oversteps executive power.
  • 2017: Pres. Trump announced repeal of DACA program.
  • 2018: Federal court halted repeal & ordered gov’t to accept DACA renewal applications during legal challenge.


  • The Court was not tasked with deciding whether DACA or the decision to unwind it were sound policies.
  • The Court examined whether the Trump administration followed a procedural rule that it *must* provide a reasoned explanation for its decision.
  • The Court ruled 5-4 that it did not and that the decision to rescind DACA was “arbitrary and capricious” under the Administrative Procedure Act.
“The basic rule here is clear: An agency must defend its actions based on the reasons it gave when it acted.”

Chief Justice John Roberts, who authored the Court's decision and cast the decisive fifth vote in the case alongside the "liberal" justices. In his decision he noted that although Pres. Trump has the power to end DACA, the administration didn't follow the proper procedure and failed to consider important factors, such as hardships to DACA recipients.

“Today’s decision must be recognized for what it is: an effort to avoid a politically controversial but legally correct decision.”

Justice Clarence Thomas in a dissenting opinion. Many of those who disagree with the Court's decision have accused it from "legislating from the bench."


  • The decision is a defeat for Pres. Trump who announced the decision to end DACA during his first year in office and it comes months ahead of the election.
  • The DACA program was created by executive action meaning Pres. Trump (or any subsequent president) may exercise executive action to repeal it.
  • The ruling may place pressure on the legislative branch to make DACA an act of Congress.

NOW WHAT? The DACA program remains – at least for now. Current DACA recipients have been able to apply for renewals as the case worked its way through the system, but it's unclear when new eligible applicants will be able to apply.

Here’s some background on DACA: click here

Here’s the opinion from the Supreme Court: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/19pdf/18-587_5ifl.pdf

by Jenna Lee,