This week marks the beginning of the Supreme Court’s new term, and one of the court’s biggest cases will be heard next month. How the justices rule could affect the lives of thousands of young immigrants in Florida.
The justices will consider the constitutionality of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, or DREAM Act, created under the Obama administration in 2012. It protects more than 800,000 young undocumented immigrants – known informally as DREAMers — from deportation by allowing them to legally stay in the United States. Their permits are renewed every two years.
The Trump administration has attempted to end the program, arguing that Congress and not the legal system should take up immigration-related issues. The President also contends that Barack Obama, who was in office when the program was created, did not have the legal authority to create it by executive order. Lower courts have blocked attempts to terminate DACA.
DACA proponents argue the program has wide bipartisan support and that terminating it would leave many who were brought to the United States as youngsters in the lurch. They are undocumented through no fault of their own. (President Trump on Wednesday called for the court to throw out the program and suggested a new measure would be passed.)
….DACA stand, with all of its negative legal implications, the Republicans and Democrats will have a DEAL to let them stay in our Country, in very short order. It would actually benefit DACA, and be done the right way!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 9, 2019
DACA recipient and Florida International University alumnus Osman López-Barraza, originally from Honduras, refers to the program as a “door-opener for DREAMers.”
“DACA was approved at a point in my life when I was working for a restaurant, the only job I could get without a work permit,” López-Barraza tells SFMN. “Having DACA put me in the position to get better jobs that consequently helped me finish college.”
According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, approximately 32,000 DACA recipients live in Florida. That makes it the fifth-largest state for DREAMers.
The justices will be hearing oral arguments from the three jurisdictions that have sued the Trump administration over DACA — California, Washington, D.C., and New York – who say eliminating the program violates the Administrative Procedure Act, a 1942 law that determines how federal agencies establish regulations and includes a public “notice and comment process” that was not followed by the president in deciding to end DACA.
More than 170 former and current members of Congress have filed amicus briefs in support of the program, including members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus such as Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-Fla.) who earlier this year co-sponsored legislation that would grant DREAMers a path to U.S. citizenship.
Additionally, 80 law enforcement leaders have lent their support, including Miami Police Chief Jorge Colina. Other signatories to the amicus briefs include 120 major companies such as Starbucks, Google, and Amazon.
“Eliminating DACA will inflict serious harm on U.S. companies, all workers, and the American economy as a whole,” wrote the firms in the friend-of-the-court brief.
Washington, D.C.-based United We Dream, the largest immigrant youth-led network in the country, filed the “first-of-its-kind” video amicus brief, displaying the stories of DACA recipients who rely on the program. The video series has been published in the “Home is Here” website.
The United We Dream brief highlights how DACA benefits undocumented young adults but also enhances public safety and community trust.
“Like the name says ‘DREAMERs,’ DACA allowed me to fully follow and achieve my dreams,” says López-Barraza, who graduated from FIU over the summer and is currently a Multimedia Producer at Hispanic Communications Network in Washington, D.C.
The high court is set to hear the case on November 12, and a decision is expected by next summer.