The US Supreme Court on Thursday gave a stunning rebuke to President Donald Trump in the midst of his re-election bid by rejecting his efforts to end legal protections for thousands of immigrants.
The court ruled 5-4 against Trump’s move to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA programme that offers work permits and deportation relief to certain immigrants who came to the country illegally as children.
What is DACA?
The DACA programme was created by former US President Barack Obama in 2012. It prevents deportation of people who arrived in the United States of America as minors.
It was rescinded by President Trump in September but gave the Congress time to come out with a policy in six months to decide on the fate of nearly 7,00,000 individuals, many of whom are Indian or South Asian descent.
However, a report in American publication The Hill said that the court’s decision does not prevent the Trump administration from working to rescind the DACA programme in the future, meaning the fate of the deportation reprieve could be decided by voters in the November general election.
What happens next?
The ruling, authored by Chief Justice John Roberts, sent the issue back to the US Department of Homeland Security for further consideration, concluding that the administration did not provide sufficient reasoning to end DACA.
The decision deemed the Trump administration’s actions in seeking to rescind DACA “arbitrary and capricious” in violation of a federal law that governs regulatory changes.
A senior Department of Homeland Security official said the agency was reviewing the ruling.
What about new applicants?
The US Supreme Court ruling means that the roughly 6,49,000 immigrants, now enrolled in DACA will remain protected from deportation and eligible to obtain renewable two-year work permits. Lower courts had blocked Trump’s 2017 action so the programme remained in effect, though the administration refused to process new applications.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, whose state was among the challengers that sued to try to preserve DACA, said the ruling could reopen the programme “to anyone who qualifies,” but that legal processes in lower courts were still ongoing that could determine whether new applications must be processed by the government.
Trump promised as a candidate in 2016 to end DACA, which he called one of Obama’s “illegal executive amnesties,” and has pursued hardline immigration policies but could face election risks if he again tries to rescind it.
Meanwhile, the South Asian groups in the US have welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision. “Although it is conditional, today’s victory is welcome at a time when the war on Black communities feels endless,” said Lakshmi Sridaran, executive director of South Asian Americans Leading Together or SAALT.