Dreamers' future in hands of Supreme Court
by Laura Barros
President Donald Trump addresses The Economic Club of New York in New York City on 12 November 2019. EFE/EPA/JUSTIN LANE
Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi greets supporters of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) who gathered outside the US Supreme Court as the justices hear oral arguments on whether the Department of Homeland Security's bid to bring an end to the DACA program is lawful in Washington on 12 November 2019. EFE/EPA/JIM LO SCALZO
President Donald Trump speaks at a meeting of the Economic Club of New York at a hotel in New York City on 12 November 2019. EFE/EPA/JUSTIN LANE
by Laura Barros
Washington, Nov 12 (efe-epa).- The future of thousands of undocumented young people known as Dreamers on Tuesday passed into the hands of the US Supreme Court, which will hear arguments on whether or not to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which is opposed by President Donald Trump.
The nine magistrates on the high court, who for about 80 minutes heard the opening arguments of the pro and con forces, will have until June 2020 to rule on the policy that protects more than 660,000 Dreamers from deportation and which the Trump administration is attempting to terminate.
DACA was launched on June 15, 2012, by then-President Barack Obama and on Sept. 5, 2017, the Trump administration announced it was terminating the program, although the move was halted by federal courts in California, New York and Washington.
WHAT DO THE DREAMERS SAY?
Theodore B. Olson, one of the attorneys arguing in favor of maintaining DACA before the high court on Tuesday and who served as solicitor general in the George W. Bush administration, told EFE that one of the elements on which defenders of the program base their support is that the Dreamers are people who must be protected because they are more vulnerable and came to the country without violating the law when they were children.
Meanwhile, Luis Cortes, an attorney and beneficiary of DACA, told reporters that the argument that they wanted to make to the justices is that this administration, if it makes an important decision, has to explain why it did so.
He said that one of the strong questions that the judges posed to the government is explain where, in the decision to end the program, all the factors and consequences that were going to derive from that were considered, but he said that those reasons could not be explained.
For California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, the justices see the importance of this program and how difficult it is to try and change it if it's not operating well.
A case comes before the Supreme Court because it's difficult, he told EFE, adding that he thinks that at the end of the day the program will be kept in place.
New York Attorney General Letitia James said she was confident that those who support DACA will win and she told EFE that they're supporting the measure because they recognize that the United States is a "country of immigrants."
She said that her office has processed 42,000 Dreamers and there are 700,000 in the entire country.
TRUMP: "THEY'RE FAR FROM (BEING) ANGELS"
Trump kicked off the day by heating up the DACA debate with a Twitter message in which he said that "Many of the people in DACA, no longer very young, are far from 'angels.' Some are very tough, hardened criminals."
According to Trump, "President Obama said he had no legal right to sign order, but would anyway."
But he added that "If Supreme Court remedies with overturn, a deal will be made with Dems for (those people protected under DACA) to stay!"
During the high court hearing, government attorney Noel J. Francisco told the justices that DACA is illegal, claiming that - even in the best of cases - it's "legally questionable."
He said that the administration was doing nothing other than upholding the law.
Liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, referring to the government's argument, criticized the fact that the documents cited by the Department of Homeland Security are "infected by the idea that" DACA is illegal.
Her colleague, Sonia Sotomayor - another liberal, and the only Hispanic, on the court - asked that the consequences of the decision to end DACA be kept in mind, warning that "This is not about the law; this is about our choice to destroy lives."
But Chief Justice John Roberts, a conservative who has sided with the liberals on the court on various cases in the past, said that deporting the DACA beneficiaries is not the question, noting that that that possibility has been ruled out, and he emphasized that this plan to end DACA deals with such things as work permits and other benefits.
A TEST FOR THE US
American Immigration Council policy director Jorge Loweree, meanwhile, told EFE that this audience is a reflection of the sacrifices and the determination of hundreds of thousands of Dreamers in the US and their allies who have refused to stand idly by and let the government deny them what everyone wants: a fair opportunity to live their lives in the way that seems best to them.
He said that this is a crucial moment for DACA beneficiaries, but also for the country in general, given that a decision must be made whether the US will honor the promises it made to hundreds of thousands of people or turn its back on people who want nothing more than "fair treatment."
Key facts on US program protecting young migrants
Washington, Nov 12 (efe-epa).- The events that led to Tuesday's hearing before the US Supreme Court on the legality of President Donald Trump's attempt to end a program that has shielded nearly 700,000 young undocumented immigrants from deportation began in June 2012, when then-President Barack Obama launched the DACA initiative.
Under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an undocumented migrant who was brought to the United States before his or her 16th birthday, has no criminal record, and is enrolled in secondary school or university can remain in the country.
DACA beneficiaries are popularly known as Dreamers after the DREAM (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) Act, a bill introduced in Congress nearly 20 years ago.
The DREAM Act won approval in the House of Representatives in 2010, but stalled in the Senate, prompting Obama to use his executive authority to address the problem.
People accepted into the DACA program do not receive permanent residence - the coveted "Green Card" - or permanent legal status, and they must apply for renewal every two years.
The latest figures from US Citizenship and Immigration Services show that 660,880 immigrants have benefited from DACA. The vast majority of them - 529,760 - were born in Mexico.
On Sept. 5, 2017, the Trump administration said it would end DACA, effective March 5, 2018.
But a US district court in California intervened in January 2018, ordering the administration to maintain the program. The following month brought a similar ruling from a federal court in New York in response to a suit filed by five Dreamers.
In April 2018, Judge John Bates of the US District Court for the District of Columbia ordered the government to reinstate DACA and resume accepting new applications, though he subsequently paused the portion of the decision concerning new applicants.
Trump's Justice Department responded to the setbacks by seeking to appeal the adverse rulings directly to the Supreme Court, rather than wait for the cases to make their way through the intermediate appellate courts.
On June 28 of this year, the Supreme Court agreed to consolidate the three cases into one and take the matter under consideration, though the nine justices are not likely to rule on the matter before spring 2020. EFE
Trump: Many Dreamers are not angels, but criminals
Washington, Nov 12 (efe-epa).- Many of the undocumented young people known as Dreamers "are far from angels" and some are "very tough, hardened criminals," President Donald Trump said on Twitter on Tuesday as the Supreme Court gets ready to review the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that allows them to remain in the United States.
The president posted his message on his Twitter account a few hours before the high court begins hearing arguments for and against DACA, which had been established by his predecessor, Barack Obama, to protect young undocumented migrants brought to the US by their parents from deportation.
"Many of the people in DACA, no longer very young, are far from 'angels.' Some are very tough, hardened criminals," tweeted Trump, who - nevertheless - promised to strike a deal with Democrats in Congress to allow Dreamers to remain in the US if the Supreme Court decides to suspend DACA.
The Supreme Court will decide in the coming months if it will uphold Trump's decision to end the program, which was launched in June 2012 by Obama, or extend it to benefit thousands of immigrants who were brought here illegally by their parents when they were very young and do not have visas.
Figures compiled by the US Citizenship and Immigration Service show that through March 2017 some 787,580 young undocumented migrants had been accepted into the program. That figure between January 2018 and April 30, 2019, stood at 425,760.
"President (Barack) Obama said he had no legal right to sign order, but would anyway," Trump said in his tweet.
"If Supreme Court remedies with overturn, a deal will be made with Dems for (those people protected under DACA) to stay!" he added.
Since he announced his presidential candidacy in 2015, Trump has often referred to immigrants as criminals, rapists, drug traffickers and gangmembers.
One of his main campaign promises during the runup to the 2016 election was to build a wall along the US southern border with Mexico to prevent the entrance of undocumented migrants, and to deport huge numbers of undocumented immigrants, calculated to number some 12 million in the US.
Trump used the same phrase - about not being angels - to refer to the Kurds in Syria who, after fighting alongside the US against the Islamic State, were exposed to a Turkish invasion when the president precipitously decided to withdraw US troops from the region.
To be included in DACA, immigrants must fulfill certain requirements, including having been brought to the US before they were 16 years old, having lived in the US since at least 2007 and having obtained a high school diploma or having served in the US armed forces.