The U.S. Supreme Court last week issued a ruling that surprised people on both sides of the political aisle, as it blocked an attempt by President Donald Trump’s administration to dismantle the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
The DACA program offers protection from deportation for undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. at an early age, many of whom have no memory or connection with the countries in which they were born. In a 5-4 decision, the high court stopped the Department of Homeland Security from ending the program, saying the DHS did not provide a reasonable explanation or a clear procedure for doing so.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Deputy Director for Police Joseph Edlow has criticized the decision, and questioned the constitutionality of the amnesty program implemented by former President Barack Obama.
“The fact remains that under DACA, hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens continue to remain in our country in violation of the laws passed by Congress and to take jobs Americans need now more than ever,” said Edlow in a statement. “Ultimately, DACA is not a long-term solution for anyone, and if Congress wants to provide permanent solution for these illegal aliens, it needs to step in to reform out immigration laws and prove that the cornerstone of our democracy is that presidents cannot legislate with a pen and phone.”
The SC decision reportedly surprised Trump, as Chief Justice John Roberts – who has been labeled as conservative in the past and was nominated by former President George W. Bush – was in the majority.
Cherokee County Young Republicans Chair Justin Kennedy said the Supreme Court is apparently not as conservative as many have considered it to be, and while he thinks there needs to be immigration reform, he doesn’t believe DACA recipients should be deported to countries to which the have few ties, although they were born there.
“We have to understand that deporting somebody who's been here for 10 years is sending them to a country that they don’t know,” said Kennedy. “Now am I just for straight amnesty? No, I am not. I am for a pathway to citizenship for people who have been here, but I think there needs to be a cutoff. I think we need to come together, our legislators need to come together and figure out what an acceptable cutoff date is. Whatever that [age] number is, and say anybody who comes to this country from this point on illegally will be returned to the country they came from, to family, to whatever program is available in that country.”
Kennedy said the U.S. should work with other countries – mainly Mexico – to deal with immigration and provide programs for undocumented immigrants trying to come to the country.
In his opinion, Roberts wrote that the dispute before the court was not whether the DHS may rescind DACA, but whether it “complied with the procedural requirement that it provides a reasoned explanation for its action.”
“That was kind of an odd ruling,” said State Sen. Dewayne Pemberton, R-Muskogee. “They didn’t really rule on DACA, as much as they ruled on the procedure that the president took. I guess it will all be up to the [Trump] administration if they want to come back and approach it again through an executive order.”
Pemberton added that while he doesn’t believe it was the president’s intention, he doesn’t think those who are already DACA recipients – who have shown they’re following the laws and rules, and are willing to be good citizens – should be deported.
The Obama-era program has been a target of President Trump’s since his 2016 campaign. The Trump administration first tried to end DACA in 2017, and since the high court’s ruling, Trump has said he will take another crack at dismantling DACA.
Dell Barnes, Cherokee County Democratic Party vice chair, hopes to see Congress enact similar protections for "Dreamers."
“I feel that ending DACA was done sloppily, and a nation of laws should conduct even a reversal of previous policies in a responsible and orderly manner,” he said. “I think in the long-term, public sentiment has grown toward protections favoring the Dreamers, and I hope to see more action from Congress toward codification of a similar program.”
In a Facebook Saturday Forum, the Tahlequah Daily Press asked readers whether they approved the Supreme Court’s recent decision. There was an unusually low number of respondents.
Deborah Hinton said Trump should have hired more competent people to facilitate his desire to end DACA, but doesn’t believe the program should end, either.
“Not once it was granted,” she said. “The U.S. government needs to quit breaking treaties (metaphorically speaking) with the people residing in America. Be a country whose word is honorable. Personally, I do not believe we should punish the children for the actions of adults.”
Brent Been said keeping DACA in place neglects the values of the U.S.
“This is the land of opportunity, correct? If a person who has arrived on our shores as an innocent child, and that child has grown up and has become a contributing member of our country, then those DACA enrollees should be allowed to become citizens," he said.
State Rep. Matt Meredith, D-Tahlequah, and Cherokee County Libertarian Party Chair Shannon Grimes, were contacted, but could not be reached by press time.
What you said
In a website poll, the Daily Press asked readers if people brought to the U.S. by undocumented parents when they were young and have known no other country should be allowed to stay. Out of the respondents, 55.9 percent said ,“Yes, since they know no other country but ours, they should be allowed the same privileges as Americans.” Another 22 percent of the respondents said, “No, not unless they acquire citizenship within a definite period.” Then, 15.3 percent of the participants said, “Yes, as long as they’ve proved to be productive members of society.” Five percent of respondents chose, “No, not at all; they should be sent back to where their parents came from.” And 1.7 percent of the respondents were “uncertain.”