It's a big day for Dreamers—the nickname given to young US immigrants brought here illegally by their parents. The Supreme Court on Tuesday heard arguments on whether the Trump administration can end an Obama-era program that protects the immigrants from deportation and allows them to work legally. No decision on the fate of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program is expected until the spring. While most coverage suggests the court is poised to let the White House end the program, there also seems to be plenty of gray area involved. DACA currently affects about 660,000 people. Coverage:
- The issue: Obama used his executive power to put DACA in place in 2012, a move Republicans criticized as overreach, per the "Playbook" blog. Trump announced in 2017 that he'd end the program, but lower courts have blocked that from happening. Now the Supreme Court is weighing in.
- The bottom line: The New York Times said the court's five conservative justices "appeared ready to side with the Trump administration," and USA Today agreed ("appeared likely to side ..."), as did the National Review ("seemed ready to uphold the Trump administration's decision ...").
- But: An assessment at the reliable SCOTUSblog puts it thusly: "After roughly 80 minutes of debate in a packed courtroom ... it wasn’t clear how the case is likely to turn out," writes Amy Howe. "Several justices appeared concerned that the Trump administration’s decision-making process had not adequately considered the effects of rescinding DACA, but on the other hand they weren’t necessarily convinced that sending the case back for a do-over would actually make much of a difference."
- Legal question: The court is not ruling on whether the program put into place by Obama is legal but whether the Trump administration's method of dismantling it is legal, reports the AP. It's a narrow issue, writes Ian Millhiser at Vox: "Did the administration provide in a pair of memos an adequate explanation for ending the DACA program? There is actually little question that the administration could end DACA if it wanted to; the question is whether this administration took the correct procedural steps to do so." Millhiser thinks things look bleak for DACA supporters, but he sees a "slim possibility" the court might extend the program's life.
- Trump: The president weighed in Tuesday morning before the arguments. "Many of the people in DACA, no longer very young, are far from 'angels,'" he tweeted. "Some are very tough, hardened criminals. President Obama said he had no legal right to sign order, but would anyway. If Supreme Court remedies with overturn, a deal will be made with Dems for them to stay!" In a fact check, the Hill notes that only a small percentage of DACA recipients—2,130 out of more than 800,000—lost benefits because of criminal activity.
- No matter what: Even if the court agrees DACA can be dismantled, Congress would be able to protect Dreamers through legislation. Trump's tweet on Tuesday suggested that would happen, though Congress has been largely deadlocked on reaching any kind of compromise on the issue.
- John Roberts: He's the pivotal vote, according to Fox News, which notes that Roberts went against the White House in a key ruling about citizenship on the 2020 census. However, Tuesday's coverage also is noting that Neil Gorsuch acknowledged the "sympathetic facts" at play in regard to the immigrants and the huge number of people involved.
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