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November 15, 2019

U.S. Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments in DACA Case

On Tuesday, November 12, 2019, the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments on whether the Trump Administration has the right to shut down the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. This program protects approximately 700,000 dreamers who were brought to the United States as children from deportation and provides them permission to work and attend college.

The University of California is one of the key plaintiffs in the case, advocating for the protection of DACA recipients. California has more than 200,000 DACA recipients, the largest amount in the country. Currently, there are between 50,000 to 70,000 undocumented immigrants attending the community college system in California, where it is estimated that half of those immigrants have DACA status.

With the California Community Colleges having the largest amount of DACA students attending their institutions, the decision in this case will be worth monitoring. In the event that the conservative leaning court decides that President Trump has the right to eliminate the program, California lawmakers will likely pass legislation to provide additional protections for these dreamers. It is important that colleges monitor the court’s decision and the legislative response that will likely follow from the California Legislature should the court rule that the Trump Administration has the authority to terminate the program.

The court is expected to make its decision on the case sometime next spring, which will be right in the middle of what is expected to be a polarizing presidential election. Because of the election season, it is highly unlikely that Congress will be able to come to a compromise on the DACA program and produce federal legislation to ensure the dreamers’ protection. This makes the Supreme Court’s decision on the matter important as it will provide clarity to the legality of the program and will prompt reactions from state legislatures should the court allow for the program’s termination.

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