The U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative majority signaled Tuesday that it may let the Trump administration shut down the Obama-era program that granted temporary protection from deportation to roughly 700,000 young people, commonly known as DREAMers.
Brought to the U.S. illegally as children, the DREAMers were allowed to legally work and go to school if they met certain requirements and passed a background check. The program, begun in 2012, is known as DACA — Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
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The Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday on the DACA program, which covers 700,000 young people.Susan Walsh/AP
Until Tuesday the administration had consistently maintained that it had no choice but to pull the plug on the program because, as President Trump’s attorney general put it in September 2017, the DACA program was “illegal” and “unconstitutional” from the time it was first put in place in 2012.
Three federal appeals courts disagreed and ruled that when an administration revokes a policy like this, on which so many people, businesses and even the U.S. economy have relied, the administration must provide a fully supported rationale that weighs the pros and cons of the program, the costs and the benefits. Faced with those lower court decisions, the Trump administration appealed to the Supreme Court, which seemed Tuesday to be on the verge of a contrary decision.
Hundreds of people gather outside the U.S. Supreme Court to rally in support of DACA.Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Can the Supreme Court even decide this case?
Solicitor General Noel Francisco opened the argument, telling the justices that they have no authority to review the policy change because DACA is a discretionary program under which the Obama administration used its prosecutorial discretion to defer deportations for certain qualified individuals.