WASHINGTON D.C. – People from all over the country are flocking into the nation’s capital, hoping to convince the Supreme Court to reinstate the DACA program, which gave the children of undocumented immigrants the ability to stay and work in the U.S. The high court is hearing arguments about the program Tuesday.
Some advocates estimate 700 thousand people were affected when President Trump decided to end President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. In Utah, advocates believe DACA has allowed for 9,700 people to live and work in the state.
According to ABC News, federal courts ruled the Trump administration’s reasons for ending the program were “arbitrary and capricious,” and they went against the federal Administrative Procedures Act. However, attorneys for the Trump administration argue that since DACA was created by an executive order, the courts don’t have any authority over the decision.
On a scale of one to ten on the “worry meter,” Antonella Packard with the League of United Latin American Citizens Utah says the people she has spoken with are at about an eight.
“At this juncture, what we’re hoping to see is that the Supreme Court upholds the appellate courts’ decision,” Packard says.
Packard sees these hearings as a missed opportunity for lawmakers to make DACA more of a permanent fixture.
She says, “Congress should have taken care of this and they had the opportunity of doing this, many times. The problem is that we haven’t been able to come to an agreement, as far as Congress is concerned, although there is support on both sides of the aisle.”
According to some immigration lawyers, the best case scenario for their clients would be if the high court were to uphold the decisions that have already been made. However, attorney Linh Tran-Layton says there’s another possibility her clients hope never happens.
She says, “They could say the DACA program was illegal to begin with, which would actually be the worst case scenario because, if they say that, then no future president could revive the program, again.”
If the program were to be eliminated completely, there wouldn’t be much left to keep DACA recipients in the U.S. She believes some undocumented immigrants might be able to get a green card if their spouse is a citizen, however, that isn’t a foolproof way to gain citizenship.
“Before we do any of that, I need to know what their immigration history is, have they every been deported and how many times have they entered into the U.S. That all plays into whether or not the U.S. citizen could do anything for their spouse,” Tran-Layton says.
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