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Ever since Donald Trump began his presidential campaign in 2015, many recipients of Deferred Actions for Childhood Arrivals benefits have been anxious about the program’s future.
While on the campaign trail, Trump promised to scrap the program, which grants undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children protections such as the ability to work, go to school, and avoid deportation. In 2017, Trump fulfilled his promise and announced his administration’s plans to phase out the program.
This morning, however, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Trump administration’s roll back of the Obama-era program was unlawful and fully reinstated DACA—meaning that new applicants can now be accepted, which hasn’t been the case for several years. This was welcome news to the more than 14,000 Dreamers in Colorado.
“It is a big sigh of relief, personally,” says Jorge Resendez, a DACA recipient and Denver Public Schools teacher. “I already feel less stressed. It also gives me hope for what can happen next, especially since we’ve had many defeats in the last four years.”
The Court’s 5-4 decision rules that the Trump administration can’t immediately shut down DACA. Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts contended that the administration’s decision was “arbitrary and capricious”—invoking a standard of review for administrative agencies’ rule-making—and that they didn’t follow procedures required to rescind a program like DACA, nor did they weigh how the decision would affect its recipients.
The ruling does not prevent Trump from shutting down the program in the future, though. To do so, his administration will need to show that it has adequately considered all implications of scrapping DACA. Considering the timing of the Supreme Court’s decision, Trump will likely only be able to return to ending the initiative if he is re-elected in November.
“In general, this opens up more opportunities for DACA recipients,” says Lu Pacheco, another DACA recipient living in Colorado. In May, Pacheco graduated from nursing school, but it was unclear if she’d be able to become a nurse if DACA was rescinded. Now, she can pursue that career. “I’m happy and relieved,” Pacheco says.
Pacheco also pointed out that the decision was a bipartisan one, with the conservative Roberts casting the deciding vote. “In the longterm, there will have to be a bipartisan solution. This is the first step in that,” she says.
Resendez echoes that sentiment. “DACA stays, but our fight is far from over,” he says. “I know that we need to fight for all immigrants. Our communities are being attacked. For example, undocumented children and people are being caged in detention centers…. Also, many black DACA recipients continue being targeted right now by a racist system. There’s a lot of work to be done.”