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As DACA Heads to the Supreme Court, the Recent History, High Stakes and Moving Stories of Those Directly Affected Take Center Stage

 

“This is about an entire group of people who are your friends, your neighbors, the people who you least expect, and they’re part of the American fabric. And this is our home. We don’t consider it home. This is our home.”

On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments to decide the future of the popular and successful DACA program. Ahead of the hearing, leading observers are highlighting the legal issues at hand and profiling some of the nearly 700,000 DACA recipients whose lives and futures will be thrown into disarray if DACA is rescinded.

In an important New York Times story entitled, How the Trump Administration Eroded Its Own Legal Case on DACA, Michael Shear, Julie Hirschfeld Davis, and Adam Liptak report on how the process to end DACA engineered by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and White House advisor Stephen Miller is now undercutting their legal case. As lower courts have ruled, “by citing only a flawed legal rationale for ending DACA — and no policy justifications — the administration’s decision was ‘arbitrary and capricious,’ an illegal exercise of presidential power without any legitimate basis to end a program relied on by about 700,000 people.”

An excellent preview piece by Jonathan Blitzer in The New Yorker documents how Sessions, Miller and their allies colluded with friendly state attorneys general to convince Trump that they had to end DACA. Now a group of high-powered lawyers, led by Ted Olsen, will argue that the decision was made without justification and without considering the impact on some 700,000 people. One of the lawyers arguing the case will be Luis Cortes, who has DACA himself.

After recapping the legal issues at hand, constitutional law professor Garrett Epps writes in The Atlantic: “As we watch these abstractions pinwheel, keep in mind that the case is the gravest of matters for nearly a million people. An adverse decision will condemn them, at best, to lives in a shadow world; at worst, of course, it may mean deportation for many of them, an end to their lives as they know them.” 

An NPR story by Nina Totenberg, “The Harvard Law Student And DREAMer Whose Fate Could Be Decided By Supreme Court,” profiles Mitchell Santos Toledo:

Mitchell Santos Toledo came to the United States when he was 2. His parents had temporary visas when they brought him and his 5-year-old sister to the country. They never left. This spring, Santos Toledo will graduate from Harvard Law School. He is one of the 700,000 DREAMers whose fate in the U.S. may well be determined by a Supreme Court case to be argued Tuesday.

…Despite his academic successes, he emphasizes that many DACA recipients are more successful — people who own houses and businesses and are raising families of their own. ‘This is much bigger than the DREAMer narrative,’ he says. ‘This is about an entire group of people who are your friends, your neighbors, the people who you least expect, and they’re part of the American fabric. And this is our home. We don’t consider it home. This is our home.’

The Tennessean’s Rachel Wegner writes, “Nashville Dreamers share their stories ahead of a Supreme Court case that will determine their future,” profiling four local DACA recipients, including Evelin Santiago:

Once she was approved for DACA, she embraced the opportunity to move forward with her life. She was able to attend college — the first in her family to do so — and began teaching in 2016. She is now a Spanish teacher at Cane Ridge High School in Nashville.

‘My kids are everything to me. I cannot imagine my life outside of the classroom,’ she said, with tears in her eyes. ‘I never imagined loving someone else’s kids as much as I love my students … I just want people to know who DACA recipients are. I want them to know that this is my country … This is home to me.’

In a Washington Post op-ed, TheDream.US co-founder Donald Graham writes:

If the Supreme Court overturns lower court injunctions and says President Trump followed the law in rescinding DACA, not one of these amazing, accomplished young people will be able to work for a law-abiding employer in the United States.

…No group of people ever relied on the word of their government more than the dreamers relied on DACA. They invested their money, their time, their boundless energy to do the things DACA made possible: to go to college, to find meaningful work. They knew it was possible that DACA would go away. They hoped it would not.

I love my country and love that it is governed by the rule of law. I pray that the court finds a way to leave the injunctions in place, to see whether Congress at last will do what most Americans say they want — let the dreamers stay here, study and work.

As a new Roll Call op-ed by seven former Republican members of Congress (Representatives Coffman, Costello, Curbelo, Dent, Dold, Lance, and Trott) notes:

Dreamers worship with us at church on Sunday. They’re educating our children and learning alongside us. They’re nurses, first-responders, lawyers, entrepreneurs, co-workers, parents, family, friends and loved ones. They are ingrained and integral to the fabric of American society and the economy.

… Rather than face a political backlash and thrust hundreds of thousands of lives into chaos, we hope the Supreme Court will ensure that DACA remains until a permanent legislative solution is signed into law.