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Fate of 'Dreamers' now rests with voters

The 5-4 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court Thursday to preserve, for now, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program squarely places the decision of what happens next with the voters.

The choice could not be clearer.

In writing the majority decision, Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. cited the Trump administration’s incompetence.

A statute known as the Administrative Procedure Act prohibits the government from making comprehensive, significant policy changes that are “arbitrary” or “capricious.” Roberts and the four justices joining him found, in reviewing the record, no assessment of the Department of Homeland Security’s original motivations for adopting DACA and no explanation for cancelling the program in 2017.

“DHS’s decision to rescind DACA was arbitrary and capricious under the APA,” the majority ruled.

The decision, for now, protects the roughly 700,000 so-called “Dreamers” — men and women, now in their 20s and 30s, who were brought to the United States as children outside of the legal immigration process. With Congress unable to agree on a comprehensive immigration reform bill, President Barack Obama used his executive authority to create DACA and protect these individuals from deportation, allowing them to legally work and pursue higher educations.

To qualify and register with the program applicants had to be graduated from high school, or working toward a diploma, or serving in or honorably discharged from the military — and with no serious criminal record. These are our friends and neighbors, an estimated 27,000 working in health care, putting many in the frontlines in the pandemic fight.

On Friday, President Trump announced his administration would work to deliver the explanation and justification for ending the program, eliminating the protections from deportation and job loss that it provides. But there is not enough time before the election for the administration to repair the flaws and get it back through the appellate court process.

If voters re-elect the president and place Republicans back in control of the Senate, the dreamers will face the loss of their jobs and potential deportation to countries that are strange lands to them.

On the other hand, the assumed Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden, has said he would immediately send Congress legislation to make the DACA protections permanent.

And the dreamers should be protected. Upending their lives would be cruel and purposeless. Remember this issue on Election Day.


The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Tim Dwyer, Editorial Page Editor Paul Choiniere, Managing Editor Tim Cotter, Staff Writer Julia Bergman and retired deputy managing editor Lisa McGinley. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.


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