DACA joy could be temporary, say activists & lawyer


The joy in the Supreme Court temporarily protecting Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals could also be temporary, believes South Asian American advocacy and civil rights organization SAALT.

This major victory is temporary because it still gives the administration an opportunity to terminate the program again on legal grounds, SAALT said in a statement.

The decision, SAALT said, “means that hundreds of thousands of young people, including over 4,000 South Asian DACA recipients, can continue to live, work, and study in the US without fear of deportation. And until the Trump administration responds, people can continue to renew applications for DACA and will soon be able to submit new applications.”

Lakshmi Sridaran, SAALT executive director, said in the statement Thursday: “Although it is conditional, today’s victory is welcome at a time when the war on black communities feels endless. It is a reminder that our work is not done, but together we can win. We have to keep demanding solutions that benefit us all — including pushing for a permanent, legislative solution that ensures a path to citizenship for all immigrants, defunding ICE, CBP, and the police, and investing in communities, which are pillars of the Movement for Black Lives policy agenda.”

SAALT, Sridaran said, joins immigrant justice groups across the country in advocating that members of Congress pass a permanent solution that helps rather than harms immigrants and communities of color.

“More than 200,000 DACA essential workers — including 41,700 healthcare workers — are on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Sridaran pointed out. “At the bare minimum, any new legislation, including COVID-19 related stimulus packages, should include reprieve from deportation and extensions of DACA and TPS work permits and protection. SAALT is also pushing for state and local leaders to provide free COVID-19 testing and treatment for all, regardless of immigration status.”

Silicon Valley-based immigration attorney Jay Singh Terkiana, who has served several DACA recipients, agreed that the judgment does not mean that DACA cannot be challenged at a later point.

“The battle is not over yet. But for now, the DREAMers have won. We all won, actually. I love it!” Terkiana said.

He explained that the Supreme Court did not decide on the legality or constitutionality of the DACA program.

“They took a technical approach and decided on whether by canceling DACA program, the administration has complied with the procedural requirements that are required for cancellation and whether the administration has provided a reasonable explanation for its actions,” he said.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. made clear that the decision was based on purely procedural issues and that the Trump administration could try to redress them at a later point, Terkiana pointed out.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Terkiana said, indicated that she would have allowed the litigants to return to the lower courts and make the case that rescinding DACA also amounted to unconstitutional discrimination.

The Supreme Court basically held that the administration had not provided proper legal justification for the canceling of DACA, Terkiana said.

The court mentioned that thousands of young people had come to rely on the program, emerging from the shadows to enroll in degree programs, embark on careers, start businesses, buy homes and move on with their lives.

It is estimated that DACA recipients pay over $60 billion in taxes each year.

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