Supreme Court Upholds DACA

The U.S. Supreme Court announced today in a 5-4 decision that it will uphold Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), overturning the Trump administration’s attempt to dismantle the program. The decision was a major victory for “Dreamers”, individuals living in the US who were brought to the country. at a young age without authorization. 

Thursday’s decision allows for approximately 650,000 Dreamers to continue working, attending school, and living in the United States on a temporary, renewable basis. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services statistics show that more than 5,000 active recipients live in Michigan; half of these are in the Detroit area.  Nationwide, an estimated 27,000 Dreamers are on the health care front lines fighting COVID-19.  

DACA does not provide recipients with permanent legal status but gives them some measure of protection from deportation.  It was issued by President Obama in 2012 as a stopgap measure after Congress failed to pass legislation protecting young adults who were brought into the country as children.  

The Court’s decision hinged on the “arbitrary and capricious” action the Trump administration took when it attempted to cancel DACA.  This leaves open the possibility that the administration could try again to rescind the program, this time, in compliance with the Administrative Procedure Act, according to CNN Chief Legal Analyst Jeffery Toobin.

What is DACA?

DACA allows certain young immigrants who entered the United States under the age of 16 to be legally present in the country without threat of deportation. The program allows for recipients to get a driver’s license, obtain a work permit, attend college, and obtain Social Security numbers. DACA status expires every two years and can be renewed. The program, however, does not provide a path to citizenship. 

Since the Trump administration’s rescission of the popular program, many DACA recipients have not been able to renew, and no new applications have been accepted.

What does this ruling mean for DACA recipients?

CNN’s Legal Analyst Jeffery Toobin said DACA recipients will not face deportation with the decision and can remain in the United States. However, the decision does not protect DACA in full. The Supreme Court stated the administration’s process for dismantling DACA was incorrect, but that it holds the power to dismantle the program through other means. Essentially, Toobin said, this provides a roadmap for the administration to rescind DACA correctly but it does face a time crunch with the upcoming November election. 

If you are a DACA holder in Southeast Michigan and would like to talk to someone about what this decision means for you, please make an appointment to talk to one of our attorneys. This half-hour consultation will be free of charge.

For now, Dreamers are celebrating the win on Thursday and some told the Washington Post that the fight is not yet over. Many hope the program will be extended to allow for a path for citizenship. However, today we stand with all DACA recipients, their families, and friends in celebrating this decision. 


The Southwest Detroit Immigrant and Refugee Center provides free and low-cost legal services to those who need them most in the Detroit area, with a focus on recent immigrants and refugees.

We were founded in 2014 by Kevin Piecuch, our Executive Director and principal attorney, to help meet the great need for quality legal services in underserved communities. We believe that everyone deserves justice regardless of your country of origin, the color of your skin, or your ability to afford an attorney.

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Original Photo by Nitish Meena on Unsplash

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