In a June 19, 2020 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) statement in response to the Supreme Court’s DACA decision described below, USCIS astoundingly said that the Court’s “opinion has no basis in law.” It’s unsurprising that the agency disagrees with the decision, but for an executive branch agency to say that a Supreme Court ruling has no basis in law shows a worrisome disregard for a co-equal branch of government, and also for the Supreme Court’s clear role as the supreme interpreter of what is law in this nation.
In a further response, on June 21, 2020, acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf indicated that the administration intends to rescind DACA again.
On June 18, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the administration’s rescission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The court found that the rescission violated the Administrative Procedures Act and was “arbitrary and capricious.”
The decision provides a temporary reprieve to about 700,000 individuals who currently have DACA status, all of whom arrived in the U.S. when they were children, and who, by now, have lived in the U.S. for at least 13 years, with many having lived here for more than three decades. About 200 DACA holders live and work here in Maine.
The sobering reality is that this decision does not take away all the uncertainty that DACA holders have about their futures in the U.S. The Court’s decision leaves the administration free to try to rescind DACA again.
But polling shows a bipartisan majority of the U.S. public (85% in this CBS News poll, and 74% in this Pew Research poll, both from June 2020) believe that immigrants who arrived here as children, including DACA holders, should be able to stay permanently in the U.S.
However, only Congress can get this done. The House of Representatives passed H.R. 6, The Dream and Promise Act in 2019, to create a path to residency for DACA holders and for those who have had Temporary Protected Status for years, even decades. The Senate has yet to act.
Approximately 29,000 DACA holders work in the healthcare sector and are on the frontlines of caring for those hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Others work in other essential sectors such as the food supply chain and education. They are young and still in the early years of their working trajectories, as our nation continues to age and retire, and birthrates fall. Our communities, and our economy, need them.
Congress must act, and can do so by inserting the Dream and Promise Act right into the next COVID-19 relief bill that the nation desperately needs.
Senators Collins and King took the lead to find a solution for DACA holders after the administration announced the program’s rescission in 2017. We look to them to do so again, so that Maine and the U.S. do not lose these immigrants who are woven into the very fabric of our communities and our economy. It’s time to finally end these young adults’ fear that they could be forced to leave the only country that has been their true home.