By Mo Juenger | Staff Writer
The Supreme Court heard the first day of oral arguments surrounding the Trump administration’s termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration program last Tuesday.
The DACA program, an executive order from the Obama administration, instructed the Department of Homeland Security to grant undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. before age 16, are veterans or high school graduates and are currently under age 30 temporary residence with the potential for renewal.
Opponents of the program’s termination argue that this action is unconstitutional based on former acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke’s memo explaining the Trump administration’s reasoning behind its cancellation. Duke’s memo states President Obama’s introduction of the program was illegal based on a determination by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
If the Trump administration succeeds in terminating the program, people currently holding DACA status will not be able to renew their status after its expiration. The administration has previously stated that it does not plan to immediately deport those whose status expires.
Approximately 700,000 people currently hold DACA status. The program provides recipients with work permits and government loans for public higher education. In some states, it allows recipients access to subsidized government health care and social services.
Some students feel that the termination of the program is limiting immigrants’ access to merited opportunities.
“If it gives good people an opportunity to keep working, then it should be in place,” sophomore biology major Bolu Salami said.
President Donald Trump’s tweets regarding the program have sparked controversy throughout the court proceedings.
“Many of the people in DACA, no longer very young, are far from ‘angels.’ Some are very tough, hardened criminals,” Trump tweeted on Nov. 12.
Students criticized the tweets.
“My cousins came over here when they were three or four. Their parents were deported but they’re protected by DACA,” first-year Philosophy, Politics and the Public major Nadia Jeelani said. “One of them works with technology at Delta and the other is becoming a nurse.”
Jeelani also expressed her belief that DACA recipients often merit citizenship. “They’re citizens. They’re contributing to society.”
First-year nursing major Grace Jarzombele agreed with Jeelani.
“I just think a lot people have stereotypes about immigrants that are not true. They’re just searching for a better life and better opportunities,” Jarzomble said. “They’re not just trying to smuggle drugs across the border, which is the impression Trump is trying to give.”
One hundred forty-three companies who employ DACA recipients have filed briefs in support of the program, including Apple, Facebook, Google and Twitter.
DACA is currently not accepting new applications during the trial but current recipients can still renew their statuses if they are eligible.
The court is expected to reach a decision by June.