Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the court’s opinion, joining the liberal justices in saying the Department of AG亚洲国际游戏homeland Security failed to consider “conspicuous issues,” including the hardship on DACA recipients and the possibility the agency could take a more limited step.
“That dual failure raises doubts about whether the agency appreciated the scope of its discretion or exercised that discretion in a reasonable manner,” Roberts wrote. He said the rescission of DACA was “arbitrary and capricious” in violation of a federal law that governs administrative agencies.
Illinois had roughly 34,000 DACA recipients as of March 2020, according to the Migration Policy Institute. At least 67,000 would have been eligible under the law's original guidelines, before the president said in September 2017 that he would wind down the program.
Trump responded angrily on Twitter, saying the court’s rulings are “horrible & politically charged” and serve as “shotgun blasts into the face of people that are proud to call themselves Republicans or Conservatives.”
“Do you get the impression that the Supreme Court doesn’t like me?” the president wrote.
On Monday, the court ruled that federal law protects gay and transgender workers from job discrimination, rejecting the Trump administration’s argument that the 1964 Civil Rights Act didn’t intend to cover sexual orientation or gender identity.
Thursday’s decision doesn’t formally preclude Trump from trying again to cancel the program with a stronger explanation, but as a practical matter he will be hard-pressed to do so before the November election.
“What this means is that the federal judiciary, without holding that DACA cannot be rescinded, has prevented that from occurring during an entire presidential term,” dissenting Justice Samuel Alito wrote. “Our constitutional system is not supposed to work that way.”
Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh also dissented. Gorsuch and Kavanaugh are Trump appointees to the court.
The decision represents a surprising victory for DACA defenders at the conservative-controlled court. Arguments in November had suggested the court would back Trump.
It spares DACA at what would have been an especially difficult time for the program to be canceled, with the coronavirus pandemic already creating heightened health and economic worries. An estimated 29,000 DACA recipients are health-care workers.
'The impact is huge'
At an unrelated press conference this morning, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot was caught off-guard by the news and grew emotional.
"Truly, that's good news. I'm grateful. There are so many young people....Wow ... there are so many young people who contribute in incredible ways to the vibrancy of our country. They deserve, and have the right, to be here, and I am grateful. I'll have to get read in on the full decision, but it's a great day, it's a great day."
"I think it will go down as one of the most historic rulings in the history of the Supreme Court and I'm overjoyed this decision has been rendered," she said.
"The impact is huge" in Chicago, she said. "There are so many young people who are DACA-eligible, who have been hanging on by a thread, and really not knowing what their future was going to hold, worrying about going away to another country that they have no memory or knowledge of," she said.
"We must, we must protect all of our immigrant and refugee communities, and particularly our young people. I am overcome with joy and relief for them. We had no idea which way the pendulum was going to swing, and we were unfortunately, preparing for the worst."
She said it will give young people a measure of comfort and support that they can not worry "about being hidden in the shadows."
Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul, one of the 16 attorneys general to challenge Trump's decision to terminate DACA, said the program "reflects our values as a nation and the belief that young people brought to this country for a better life deserve the chance to get ahead.
"I applaud the Supreme Court for today’s decision in our case and others that protects thousands of young people and their rights to live and work in the only country they have ever known as AG亚洲国际游戏home. I will continue to fight any discriminatory actions that cause uncertainty and fear in immigrant communities in Illinois and throughout the country.”
Congressman Jesús “Chuy” García, whose Chicago district that is over one-third foreign born, said that "today’s ruling brings hope to hundreds of thousands of people who have lived with uncertainty for too long."
"This important victory is a testament to the effective organizing by immigrant youth who have fought for years to stay in the country they call AG亚洲国际游戏home," he said in a statement. "We celebrate today, but we keep fighting tomorrow. The Supreme Court decision is not a permanent solution and does not provide a pathway to citizenship."
A proposed federal bill known as Dream and Promise Act would allow Dreamers the opportunity to apply for legal status and eventually become eligible for citizenship. That measure has passed the House, but has yet to reach the Senate floor.
"For these 700,000 DACA-protected individuals, they can continue to live, to work, and to study in America without fear of deportation for the moment," said U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin on the Senate floor Thursday, shortly after the Supreme Court decision. "We could enact that law and say to these young people, now you have your chance to stay and earn your path to citizenship in America. That's what we ought to be saying.”
A.D. Quig contributed.