Following efforts by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to reverse President Barack Obama’s 2012 executive order known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the move was challenged in court.
That case reached the U.S. Supreme Court this year, where a 5–4 decision this week blocked the Trump administration’s actions on procedural grounds but did not address the legal merits of the underlying issue, as reported by The New York Times.
“Arbitrary and capricious”
Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the court’s liberal wing to author the majority opinion, describing as “arbitrary and capricious” the DHS argument for ending the legal protection for undocumented immigrants who entered the nation as minors.
“We do not decide whether DACA or its rescission are sound policies,” Roberts wrote, according to the Times. “We address only whether the agency complied with the procedural requirement that it provide a reasoned explanation for its action.”
As the Times noted, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote a dissent, which was joined by Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch.
“The Trump administration rescinded DACA the same way that the Obama administration created it: unilaterally, and through a mere memorandum,” the opinion read.
Thomas went on to argue that DACA had been unlawful from its inception.
“Today’s decision must be recognized for what it is: an effort to avoid a politically controversial but legally correct decision,” he wrote, further noting that the legislative branch should have addressed the issue at the outset instead of further empowering the executive branch to take future unilateral actions.
“Perhaps even more unfortunately, the majority’s holding creates perverse incentives, particularly for outgoing administrations,” Thomas continued. “Under the auspices of today’s decision, administrations can bind their successors by unlawfully adopting significant legal changes through Executive Branch agency memoranda.”
President Donald Trump has also weighed in personally, tweeting his displeasure with the recent Supreme Court ruling.
“As President of the United States, I am asking for a legal solution on DACA, not a political one, consistent with the rule of law,” he wrote. “The Supreme Court is not willing to give us one, so now we have to start this process all over again.”
While the decision did not please many conservatives hoping to end the Obama-era immigration order, the court has indirectly given the Trump administration another chance to reconsider its argument. The president’s latest remarks indicate he is prepared to do just that.