The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments Tuesday in a case that could be pivotal for hundreds of thousands of young people covered by the DACA program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
Under the program, put in place by the Obama administration, people brought to this country illegally when they were children can apply to study, work and remain here legally for a temporary period.
The Trump administration has sought to end the program and make DACA recipients eligible for deportation. That plan so far has been blocked by the courts.
A clinic at the Yale Law School was the first to sue the administration over DACA, and its suit is one that has been folded into the case now before the Supreme Court.
Law student Ramis Wadood is a member of the Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic at Yale, and he was in Washington, D.C., Tuesday as the court heard oral arguments.
He joined Connecticut Public Radio’s Morning Edition to talk about his experience. These are highlights of that conversation:
On Yale’s role in the history of this case
We’ve actually been involved in this fight since before DACA was rescinded in September of 2017. We represented our plaintiff, Martin Batalla Vidal, in a case earlier in 2016 that challenged certain termination of extended benefits to DACA, and when the Trump administration terminated DACA in 2017, we thought that that case was a good case to argue that the entire termination of DACA is against federal administrative law.
On the Supreme Court oral arguments
The arguments were essentially ones about government accountability. It’s an argument that if the government makes a decision that affects this many lives, in this many ways, it has to adequately explain that decision, and why it was a decision worth making, to the public.
On the scene at the court
It was a powerful, powerful scene. There were hundreds if not thousands of people outside, rallying the court. I think the most powerful part of it was the sheer presence of DACA recipients, not only at the center of the movement leading the rally but in the courtroom as well. The public seats in the courtroom were filled with DACA recipients. There was even a DACA recipient at the lawyers’ table at the front of the Supreme Court, the first DACA recipient to be authorized to practice in front of the Supreme Court.
On the possibility of DACA being rescinded
It would have obviously terrible consequences for the nearly 800,000 recipients of DACA. Recipients have the ability to renew their protections currently, but if the program is terminated, eventually those protections will expire. We would hope for Congress to take action, but we can’t rely on legislative advocacy on that front, so it’s extremely important that the justices in this case uphold DACA.