U.S. Supreme Court Rejects Trump Administration Attempt to Repeal DACA Program

On June 18, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked the Trump Administration’s attempt to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, ruling that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS)’s decision to rescind the program was arbitrary and capricious. The DACA program, established by President Obama’s 2012 Executive Order, protects over 700,000 undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. Pursuant to the program, DACA recipients (often referred to as “Dreamers”) may be granted temporary relief from deportation and temporary work authorization. The program does not provide a pathway to permanent resident status in the U.S.

The Court found that DHS did not provide a reasoned explanation for its termination of DACA because it failed to consider the “conspicuous issues” of whether to retain relief from deportation and “what if anything to do about the hardship to DACA recipients.” A link to the decision is here.

The June 18 decision makes clear that the Trump Administration has the authority to continue the DACA program or to rescind it. However, if the Administration elects to rescind the program, DHS must issue a new decision terminating the program and must provide a reasoned explanation as to why the agency is no longer offering protections to DACA recipients.

Under current rules, DACA recipients may continue to renew their DACA benefits, including employment authorization. Previously issued employment authorization documents remain valid.

The Supreme Court decision is a positive one for Dreamers. DHS is required to continue to accept applications to renew DACA grants, and the decision does not make immediate changes to the status quo. It remains unclear whether DHS will attempt before the November election to terminate the program again through the rulemaking process. The Supreme Court ruled on the way in which the administration terminated DACA, but not on the legality of the program itself.

We will continue to monitor the administration’s response to the U.S. Supreme Court decision and will provide updates and analysis as more information becomes available.