The Supreme Court shockingly ruled Thursday against the Trump administration’s effort to end a poorly thought out Obama-era program that offers legal protections to young illegal immigrants that come to the country as children.
The court ruled that the administration’s decision to rescind the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), which sets out rulemaking procedures for federal agencies.
The Supreme Court, with a conservative majority, ruled in a 5-4 decision, with Chief Justice John Roberts joining the liberal members to author the opinion, the court said the Department of Homeland Security’s move to eliminate the program was done in an “arbitrary and capricious” manner although they did not rule on the merits of the program itself.
“We do not decide whether DACA or its rescission are sound policies. ‘The wisdom’ of those decisions ‘is none of our concern,'” Roberts wrote in his opinion. “We address only whether the agency complied with the procedural requirement that it provide a reasoned explanation for its action.”
President Trump reacted to the decision tweeting, “These horrible & politically charged decisions coming out of the Supreme Court are shotgun blasts into the face of people that are proud to call themselves Republicans or Conservatives.”
Trump’s tweet suggests that he feels the second amendment may be at if more conservative judges are not appointed.
The Trump administration announced its plan to phase out DACA in 2017, only for the federal courts to rule that it could not apply retroactively and that DACA should be restarted in full. The White House fought back on those decisions, saying the president has broad authority over immigration enforcement policy.
The Justice Department has also argued the DACA program is not working and is unlawful, and that the president should have the “absolute discretion” to adopt a revised overall immigration strategy. A dozen states led by Texas were among the parties backing the administration.
The program was established through an executive order from Obama that the Trump administration pointed out was improper to begin with, claiming this should have been done via legislation from Congress.
Former President Barack Obama, meanwhile, hailed the decision, tweeting: “Eight years ago this week, we protected young people who were raised as part of our American family from deportation. Today, I’m happy for them, their families, and all of us.”
Justice Roberts wrote that when the administration rescinded DACA it “failed to consider the conspicuous issues of whether to retain forbearance” — referring to the non-enforcement of immigration laws to remove those with DACA protection — as well as the impact the decision would have on DACA recipients who have relied on the program.
“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, noting that the administration could have scrapped the benefits provided by DACA while keeping the non-enforcement policy, but instead eliminated all of it without even giving a reason for ceasing non-enforcement.
“The appropriate recourse is therefore to remand to DHS so that it may consider the problem anew.” Roberts made clear that the administration does indeed have the power to rescind DACA, just not in this fashion.
Justice Clarence Thomas wrote to the contrary that the decision to repeal DACA was correct, and that the majority is holding the Trump administration’s decision to a higher standard than the order that established DACA in the first place.
“These cases could—and should—have ended with a determination that his legal conclusion was correct,” Thomas wrote. “Instead, the majority today concludes that DHS was required to do far more.”
He continued: “Without grounding its position in either the APA or precedent, the majority declares that DHS was required to overlook DACA’s obvious legal deficiencies and provide additional policy reasons and justifications before restoring the rule of law. This holding is incorrect, and it will hamstring all future agency attempts to undo actions that exceed statutory authority. I would therefore reverse the judgments below and remand with instructions to dissolve the nationwide injunctions.”
Thomas accused the court’s majority of wanting to avoid making waves, even it if meant getting the law wrong.
In a line that Trump retweeted Thursday morning, Thomas said, “Today’s decision must be recognized for what it is: an effort to avoid a politically controversial but legally correct decision.”