UPDATE: The United States Supreme Court just ruled against the Trump Administration’s decision to end the DACA program.
WASHINGTON — Many immigrants are feeling anxious as they wait to hear whether the U.S. Supreme Court will allow President Donald Trump to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — or DACA– which shields them from deportation.
The Court is expected to issue a ruling on DACA before the end of June, as the justices heard arguments last fall and are expected to decide before they wrap up work for the summer.
For the 650,000 enrolled in DACA, waiting means nerves, stomachaches and little sleep. If the Supreme Court sides with Trump, many of those immigrants can be deported and they no longer will be able to legally work.
Reyna Montoya’s hands get sweaty and her throat feels like it’s closing just talking about the anxiety of every Monday this spring.
The immigrant rights activist, who’s shielded from deportation because of the program, sets a 6 a.m. alarm so she’s alert when the latest Supreme Court decision may be posted online about an hour later.
“My gut hurts,” said Montoya, 29, who is originally from Mexico but has grown up in the Phoenix area. “It’s this constant level of anxiety.”
Under intense pressure from young activists, then-President Barack Obama announced DACA in 2012. Commonly known as “Dreamers” after the failed legislation that would have provided a path to citizenship, these immigrants have been in the U.S. since they were children. Recipients went through extensive background screening to get two-year work permits and protection from deportation.
The Trump administration in 2017 announced the end of the program, resulting in legal challenges now in the hands of the Supreme Court. Those already enrolled still have protections and can renew their two-year permits, but nobody new can join.
It’s not clear how the Trump administration would end the program, but the high court’s conservative majority seems supportive of allowing him to do so.
Immigration authorities have said they would deport any DACA recipients who have an existing immigration court case. At a congressional hearing in early June, Sen. Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, asked a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement official about the potential deportation of DACA recipients if the Supreme Court sides with Trump.
Henry Lucero, head of ICE removal operations, said “there is no plan or current planning for that situation” but that the agency carries out lawful removal orders as directed. That means thousands of previously protected immigrants, including many who work in the health care industry, could be kicked out of the country, possibly during the coronavirus pandemic.