In yet another stunning decision (in the good way!) this week, the Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that the Trump administration illegally ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The court said that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) failed to give adequate justification for ending the popular and successful program that has allowed hundreds of thousands of young immigrants to more fully live their lives.
While the administration could try to kill it again “by offering a more coherent and detailed explanation,” as Daily Kos’ Joan McCarter wrote earlier, it would do so in opposition to massive public and political opinion—and just months before the presidential election. Nevertheless, this court victory in particular belongs to DACA recipients themselves, who fought to win the program, and have since fought—and won—to keep it in place.
“I am just speechless,” Carlos Vargas, a DACA recipient and a plaintiff in litigation against the Trump administration, told The Appeal. “It means that I can continue living my life without the fear of deportation. I can continue my law school education. I can continue living without fearing ICE will come knocking at the door. It’s very exciting.”
“When we fight, we win,” tweeted DACA recipient Juan Escalante. “Thank you to everyone who has stood by Dreamers, DACA recipients, and all immigrants across the country. Today is a HUGE victory against the draconian immigration policies of the Trump admin—but the work continues. We cannot, we must, not let up!”
“DACA was possible because immigrant youth imagined and demanded it,” said Greisa Martinez Rosas, a DACA recipient and deputy executive director of United We Dream Action. “Today’s ruling is another reminder that when people directly impacted are those pushing for solutions, that's when transformational change happens.”
Standing outside the Supreme Court following the decision, Martinez Rosas said it was “so exciting and electrifying to see people from across the country knowing that immigrants are here to stay, that people are here to stay, and that Black lives matter,” lifting up the estimated 11,000 Black DACA recipients who are grappling with both their immigration status and police violence.
DACA recipient Jonathan Jayes-Green tweeted that “I have been so used to living through crises that I have countless pages worth of preparation for what will happen if DACA went down in flames but very little on what happened if we won. I am sitting with that ...” He still, however, allowed himself a moment for a much-deserved celebration.
DACA recipient Ciriac Alvarez urged advocates to keep fighting for the inclusion of more undocumented young people into the program. Remember that while lower courts ordered the administration to keep DACA in place following the administration’s rescission in 2017, new applicants were unable to enroll in the program. It’s unclear at the moment what the Supreme Court’s decision means for them.
DACA recipient Tony Choi echoed the push, saying he’ll keep fighting for young immigrants who haven’t been able to apply for the program.
“DACA has changed the lives of nearly 825,000 people who were brought to the United States as children—including myself,” Families Belong Together organizer Cheska Mae Perez said in a statement received by Daily Kos. “As DACA recipients, we have been able to attend college and fill jobs that are often unattainable to those without work authorization in the United States. We have planted our roots here—many as parents to some 250,000 U.S. citizen children—and many as home and small business owners.”
“Without question, we need compassion and care from everyone and for everyone,” Perez continued. “No one should have to worry about their communities and families being torn apart.”
The Home Is Here coalition is planning a digital rally on Monday—see more information on that here. Let’s also keep doing what we can to help DACA recipients by chipping in for their renewal fees. At $495 per person—and not including legal fees, if they require an attorney’s help—many are priced out. This is especially the case during the novel coronavirus pandemic, when families have been severely affected by job loss and many DACA recipients have become sole breadwinners in their families.
What happens tomorrow is unclear, if the program fully opens up again, or what the Trump administration even does next. But today, we celebrate.