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Religious Tolerance logo


Part 28 of "Conflicts During
President Trump's Administration"

2020-JUN: The U.S. Supreme Court
preserved the "Deferred Action for
Childhood Arrivals" (DACA) program.

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Review of DACA , a Federal U.S. program:

DACA refers to the "Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals" program of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. It is directed at almost 800,000 undocumented youths and young adults who were illegally brought into the United States by their parents, grew up in the country, but currently have no U.S. citizenship status. They are often referred to as "DREAMers."

During the 2010's, many bills had been filed in Congress to create a DACA-like program, but none had progressed into law. Finally, President Obama (D) signed an executive order creating such a program. However, although this brought great relief to many of the 800,000 DREAMers, any subsequent President could choose to issue his or her own executive order to terminate the program or modify it in any way.

DACA allows some of DREAMers to apply for temporary relief from the threat of deportation for a period of two years. They may request renewal of their status at the end of the two year interval. According to the web site of the Homeland Security's web site on 2016-NOV-12, individuals may request DACA if they:

  • "Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
  • Came to the United States before reaching their 16th birthday;
  • Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;
  • Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making their request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services;
  • Had no lawful citizen status on June 15, 2012;
  • Are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States, and
  • Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety." 1

According to the Voice of America, most of the DACA individuals come from Mexico, with smaller numbers from Guatemala, El Salvador, South Korea, Honduras and China. The average age of a DACA recipients when she or he arrived in the U.S. was 6.5 years. 2 

President-elect Trump had promised during his election campaign, in an act of unusual cruelty, to overturn President Obama's executive order quickly after taking office, leaving DACA students and adults without protection from deportation. In many cases, the United States is the only country they have known. Many regard themselves as loyal Americans firmly embedded in the culture. Many cannot speak the language of their country of origin. Some would have no family to return to if they were sent back.

However, during his campaign for the presidency prior to the 2016 election, Donald Trump apparently contradicted himself, saying:

"We love the DREAMers. We love everybody."

Trump won the election as President in 2016-NOV. Terminating the DACA was a main focus of his activity. But it was only during 2019-SEP, that Attorney General Jeff Sessions -- acting under President Trump's orders -- announced that DACA would end on 2020-MAR-05. This action placed pressure on Congress to come up with a substitute. Lawsuits were launched by DREAMer supporters to seek a court ruling that would preserve DACA unchanged.

Public Opinion Polls have consistently concluded that most U.S. adults favor the DACA program. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll 2019-DEC found that 62% of U.S. adults favored a continuation of DACA, while 19% wanted it terminated. Support is higher among Democrat voters than among Republicans.

By late 2019, these lawsuits had reached the United States Supreme Court. On Thursday, 2020-JUN-18, the High Court issued its ruling. They Justices voted 5:4 to to allow the program to continue. The usual split among the Justices occurred with four Conservatives voting in favor of deporting Dreamers, four liberal Justices voting against, along with the Chief Justice John Roberts acting as swing vote.

The Court ruled that the Trump administration had violated the Administrative Procedure Act, which provides guidelines for changing executive branch policy, by using "arbitrary and capricious" reasoning in its decision. 

President Trump tweeted:

"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. We need more Justices or we will lose our 2nd. Amendment & everything else. Vote Trump 2020!"

He was apparently referring to the DREAMER decision and a second recent decision by the High Court that the word "sex" in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination against biological females, biological men, heterosexuals, gays, lesbians, bisexual, asexual, cisgender and transgender persons. He tweeted "Do you get the impression that the Supreme Court doesn’t like me?"

Sen. Martha McSally, R-AZ, said it was time to advance legislation on the program. She said:

"Today’s DACA ruling gives the White House and Congress the opportunity to do what is right and solve this issue with thoughtful legislation. I’ve fought many times in Congress to provide a legal status for DACA recipients while enhancing border security, closing loopholes in our laws, and modernizing our legal immigration system. I stand ready to continue that work in a bipartisan way." 2

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Public support for the DACA program:

The Pew Research Center conducted a public opinion poll during 2020-JUN-4 to 10. They found that 74% of U.S. adults favor granting legal status to immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children. This included:

  • 91% of Democrats or those who lean Democratic.
  • 54% of Republicans or those who lean Republican.
  • 69% of Whites
  • 82% of Blacks
  • 72% of English speaking Asians
  • 88% of Hispanics. 4

They found that about 649,000 immigrants have work permits and protection from deportation under DACA. 521,440 were from Mexico, 25,050 from El Salvador, 16,970 from Guatemala, 15,570 from Honduras, 6,280 from South Korea, 3,320 from the Philippines, and 2,290 from India. Their average age was 26 at the time of the poll.

Their article has a U.S. map showing where DACA recipients lived in 2019. Los Angeles, New York City, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Houston and Chicago were the main areas. 4

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)," Department of Homeland Security, as on 2016-DEC-21, at:
  2. "Protests Planned Ahead of DACA Announcement," Voice Of America, 2017-SEP-05, at:
  3. Allan Smith, "Trump lashes out at Supreme Court after DACA ruling doesn't go his way." NBC News, 2020-JUN-18, at:
  4. Jens Manuel Krogstad, "Americans broadly support legal status for immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children," Pew Research Center, 2020-JUN-19 at:

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Copyright © 2020 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2020-NOV-11
Author: B.A. Robinson

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