Supreme Court DACA Ruling Explained

Originally published on June 18, 2020 by Aline Barros for

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday against the Trump administration's bid to end a program that shields from deportation noncitizens brought to this country illegally as children.

On a 5-4 vote, the court said the government had erred procedurally and provided inadequate justification to rescind Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an Obama-era program that protects more than 700,000 immigrants.


What did the court do?

It ruled narrowly that the administration did not follow procedure, not that DACA recipients have a permanent right to live in the United States.

What is the ultimate impact of the ruling?

The ruling, immigration attorneys said, has DACA recipients and their families breathing easier, for now, but it does not mean the administration will not attempt to end the program again.

According to legal experts, it appears that the Supreme Court's decision serves to reinstate DACA following the 2012 criteria. These cover new applications and renewals. In both instances, an applicant had to have arrived in the U.S. before turning 16 and be no older than 30 when first applying for the program. For example, a person who arrived in the U.S. at age 5 and was 25 years old when the program started in 2012 would meet the age requirement. Other requirements included no criminal convictions and current enrollment in high school or a diploma from a U.S. high school.

Besides protecting an individual from deportation, the program also allows its recipients to obtain authorization to work in the U.S. and to accrue "lawful presence." 

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