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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

December 6, 2019   |   Ithaca, NY

Opinion

Nat Recap: Supreme Court hears momentous DACA case

On Tuesday, Nov. 12, the Supreme Court began hearing oral arguments in a case that aims to preserve Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in the wake of President Donald Trump’s attempts to end the program.

The program aims to protect young immigrants by giving them protection from deportation and work permits. Created by the Obama administration in 2012, the program protects approximately 700,000 people who were brought to the U.S. illegally or came with families that overstayed their visas. 

Trump ordered an end to the program in 2017 but was blocked from immediately doing so from a number of federal courts in different states, including New York. The administration claims that the program is unlawful and that President Barack Obama did not have the authority to enact it in the first place. 

One of the lead plaintiffs in the ongoing Supreme Court case is 29-year-old Martin Batalla Vidal, who initially sued the federal government in 2016 when a federal court in a separate case ruled that DACA permits could not be extended for a third year. When Trump ordered that the program be terminated, Batalla Vidal and his lawyers amended his original lawsuit to fight the termination. 

Batalla Vidal, a DACA recipient, crossed the U.S.-Mexico border with his mother when he was 7 years old and currently has two brothers who are U.S. citizens. His is just one of the many cases filed to challenge the Trump administration’s efforts to rescind DACA protections. 

Throughout the last two years, individual DACA recipients, corporations, civil rights groups and universities have continually challenged the Trump administration’s plans. In many cases, they have won. Across the U.S., lower courts have found that the administration based its argument against the program on faulty legal analysis rather than providing concrete, lawful reasons that the public and lawmakers could evaluate. 

In June, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the administration’s appeal of Batalla Vidal’s case alongside a number of other similar cases across the country. Just before he appeared in court on Tuesday, Batalla Vidal said that while he has no idea what is going to happen, he hopes the outcome of the case will help DACA recipients like himself.

“Whatever the outcome is, we know that we have fought hard for it, and we will continue fighting,” he said. “I am trying to be positive.”

The protections of DACA recipients remain in effect until the Supreme Court makes its final decision, likely in 2020, according to The Associated Press.

Brontë Cook can be reached at bcook4@ithaca.edu