National Beat Reporter
The Trump administration’s attempt to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program hit a roadblock with the Supreme Court’s decision last Monday. The court decided not to hear the administration’s appeal over two federal court injunctions that allow DACA to remain in place.
Some people at UCSB applauded the move, while others are worried about what this means for undocumented students. The Undocumented Student Services Coordinator Diana Valdivia said the decision to not hear the appeal is good for all DACA students. This includes people at UCSB since it will allow them to keep applying for the program.
Oscar Zarate, a fifth year political science major and student activist, said the Court’s decision takes a lot of the pressure off the immigration debate in Congress. He said that there is now “less of an impetus to get something done” and has left the undocumented community to live in uncertainty once again.
Back in January and February, federal district courts in California and New York issued nationwide injunctions which are court orders that require parties to continue or cease a particular action. These courts offered the injunctions over Trump administration’s choice to end DACA.
The injunctions required the administration to keep accepting DACA renewals for individuals who were already granted deferred action from deportation and work permits under the program.
Judge William Alsup of the Federal District Court in San Francisco issued an injunction on the grounds that the Trump administration’s decision to end DACA was improper. Aslup issued it on the basis that the program was put in place illegally, according to the New York Times.
In New York, Judge Nicholas Garaufis issued his injunction, citing the Administrative Procedure Act as reasoning. The act “forbids the government from acting arbitrarily or capriciously in changing federal policy,” the New York Times reported.
In response to these injunctions, the Trump administration attempted to circumvent the appellate courts and appeal the injunctions directly to the Supreme Court.
SCOTUS’s decision to not hear the Trump administration’s appeal stems from the justices’ desire for the appeal to go through the lower courts before considering the case hearing, according to NBC News.
Eimy Fernandez Espejo, a second year sociology major and member of El Congreso expressed skepticism over the Court’s decision. Espejo spoke on behalf of El Congreso, an organization that confronts challenges that Chican@/Latin@ communities face.
She said that El Congreso recognizes that the court’s decision does not derive from a particular care for undocumented students, “but rather because it follows past legal precedent regarding appeals.”
Zarate said that SCOTUS’s decision to not hear the appeal is “a relief for many of us who rely on DACA to sustain ourselves and support our families.”
However, there is concern that there will be less urgency for Congress to pass immigration reform. Back in September, the Trump administration announced that DACA was set to end on March 5. Many saw this as an unofficial deadline for Congress to take action before DACA recipients began losing their protected status from deportation and work permits.
Now that the Court’s decision killed the March 5 deadline and with immigration reform at a standstill in Congress, the fate of thousands of DACA recipients appears uncertain again.
Congress’s failure to reach a consensus on immigration reform is perhaps best seen last month in the defeat of a bipartisan proposal that paired a pathway to citizenship for young undocumented immigrants with increased border security.
Espejo said that despite Congress’s relief from the urgency to pass immigration reform thanks to the recent injunctions, DACA recipients will continue to live “with worry and fear.”
“We can’t let these politicians relax especially with the midterms coming up,” Zarate said.
Valdivia stated that students’ emotions might differ on the court’s decision but what is important is that Undocumented Student Services continues “to support students’ emotionally and through our legal services.”
Espejo said that there should be “greater legal and economic aid available to the undocumented students and faculty, regardless of whether or not they have DACA status.”
“Undocumented immigrants are not objects or things that can be put on hold,” Espejo said. “They are people, human beings with families and jobs and deserve much more.”