Editor's note: An earlier version of this story stated that DACA offered a pathway to citizenship. The program does not offer a path to citizenship, though it allows undocumented immigrants to continue to work and live in the U.S.
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court has rejected President Donald Trump’s effort to end legal protections for 650,000 young immigrants, a stunning rebuke to the president in the midst of his reelection campaign.
The outcome seems certain to elevate the issue in Trump’s campaign for reelection, given the anti-immigrant rhetoric of his first presidential run in 2016 and immigration restrictions his administration has imposed since then.
Chief Justice John Roberts, joined by the court's four liberal judges sided in the opinion of the court.
“We do not decide whether DACA or its rescission are sound policies,“ Roberts wrote. “We address only whether the agency complied with the procedural requirement that it provide a reasoned explanation for its action. Here the agency failed to consider the conspicuous issues of whether to retain forbearance and what if anything to do about the hardship to DACA recipients.”
The court's four other conservative judges dissented. In his dissent, Justice Clarence Thomas said he believed DACA was illegal from the moment it was passed in 2012. Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch joined him in that opinion.
In a separate dissent, Justice Brett Kavanaugh said he felt the Trump administration had taken appropriate action to end the program.
President Barack Obama established DACA through an executive order in 2012 after lawmakers were unable to reach a compromise on immigration reform. The program allows undocumented immigrants, many who were brought to the United States as children, to continue working in the U.S.
In September 2017, Trump announced he was ending the program with a six-month delay. Several civil rights organizations quickly sued the administration, halting the program's termination. The Department of Homeland Security has continued to process two-year renewals to the program.