When the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program came to life under the Obama Administration in 2012, there was a sigh of relief from certain undocumented people brought to the United States when they were children.
DACA represented opportunity for about 660,000 U.S. immigrants, but for the past two years those who took advantage of the program have had to hold their breath while waiting for a Supreme Court ruling.
President Donald Trump's administration announced in September 2017 it would rescind the DACA program, which shields immigrants brought to the U.S. as children from deportation and allows them to work in the United States legally.
“It made me feel insecure with knowing the president's thoughts about us,” DACA recipient Abigail Tamariz said.
But young immigrants, civil rights groups, universities and Democratic-led cities and states sued to block the administration. They persuaded courts in New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. Now, the Supreme Court will hear arguments on the case.
The high court case is not over whether DACA itself is legal, but instead the administration's approach to ending it.
The Trump administration argued President Obama's DACA executive order was unconstitutional, legal analyst Dan Eaton explained. Lower courts have said that argument isn't good enough, and now it’s the Supreme Court’s turn to have its say.
So while it all plays out in the high court, over a 150,000 California DACA recipients like Tamariz are left in limbo.
“There is really no question that the Department of Homeland Security has the authority to rescind DACA. No one questions that. The question is whether the justification the Department of Homeland Security gave for rescinding DACA was arbitrary.
But with a conservative leaning Supreme Court, President Bush-appointed Chief Justice John Roberts may be a swing vote.
“You also want to look at Justice Kavanaugh, who tends to vote with Chief Justice Roberts,” Eaton said.
But because the issue concerns executive action and not legislation, it centers on politics not policy.
“And the consequences of a decision one way or another ultimately will be decided by the voters in terms of who they ultimately elect President of the United States,” Eaton said.
Some DACA recipients who are part of the lawsuit are expected to be in the courtroom for the arguments. People have been camping out in front of the court since the weekend for a chance to grab some of the few seats that are available to the general public.
Eaton expects to see a decision come around six months from now. Possibly in April, right in the middle of the Democratic primary, or maybe in June just five months before the election.