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After two years of working to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program without taking responsibility for doing so, yesterday’s Supreme Court oral argument revealed an important truth. Instead of hiding behind the fig leaf that “the law made us do it,” Trump administration Solicitor General Noel Francisco admitted before the Supreme Court, “We own this.”
In fact, the decision to threaten nearly 700,000 DACA recipients with deportation is owned by more than President Trump and his white supremacist immigration advisor Stephen Miller. It is owned by the Republicans in Congress who have refused to work with Democrats to pass a permanent solution. And if the Supreme Court’s conservative majority decides to end DACA, they, too, will “own this.”
The stakes are enormous. Chief Justice John Roberts seems to believe that the Trump administration would not deport Dreamers, but almost no one else shares his optimism. As Nicole Narea noted in a DACA Supreme Court preview piece at Vox:
Acting US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Ken Cuccinelli told reporters in October that, if the Supreme Court allows the Trump administration to move forward with ending DACA, those who have benefited from the program ‘will join the ranks of millions of people’ living in the US without authorization. Though immigration authorities prioritize deporting immigrants with criminal histories, he said, it’s possible that DACA recipients could be deported as well.
And as Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern noted yesterday:
The Trump administration has fought aggressively to deport several DACA recipients, even fabricating evidence to falsely accuse one Dreamer of a gang affiliation. Trump and his associates have given Dreamers every reason to believe that they may be sent back to a country they do not even remember if they lose DACA protections.
Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor captured the essence of what’s at stake in yesterday’s proceedings when she said, “that this is not about the law, that this is about our choice to destroy lives.”