By: Rachael Andrews

Dr. Roberto Carlos, assistant professor of political science, focuses his research on race, ethnicity, and politics. He breaks down the recent Supreme Court decision regarding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of Univ. of California. 


Tell us a little more about the decision:

The majority opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts stated that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), while having the authority to end the DACA program, did not do so for good reason. Roberts’ majority opinion says that the specific reasoning for DHS’s decision to end the program was not valid.


What does that mean for DACA recipients?:

I think a lot of people see this as a victory for DACA recipients, and I think DACA recipients probably see it as a victory, but a pretty small one in the sense that what it has done is extended their timeline. It’s given them a little bit more breathing room, but their precarious immigration status remains the same.

In essence, what the Supreme Court decision did was give everyone more time to go back to their respective corners and decide how they were going to pursue this debate. I think DACA recipients hope that Congress steps up and passes a bill that the president would sign, but the current environment does not really suggest that that is going to happen, at least before the election.

These people are left in limbo until the new deadline passes. There’s a lot of uncertainty about what their future holds.


What would a more permanent solution look like?:

We’re talking about roughly 700,000 people. If you ask DACA recipients and supporters, they’ll say that a permanent solution is to grant them permanent status. They were brought to the United States as young people through no fault of their own, and they feel that they should not be punished for that. Their argument is that they have worked hard because there are certain requirements that they need to have to qualify for DACA in the first place. You had to be brought to the United States before you were 16 years old, you had to be in school or have a high school diploma or GED, you could not commit any crimes, and there was also a cutoff point where you couldn’t be older than 31 years old. As far as DACA recipients are concerned, they are American citizens, and many of them do not know a life outside of the United States. 

The other solution is to deport all of these people who came to the United States regardless of their age, but I do not think that there is a precedent for that. If you go back to the Carter and Reagan administrations, there have been exceptions made, but I do not think it is a realistic solution to deport all of these people, regardless of when and how they got here. 


What do you see as the next steps for this topic?:

It is more of the same for these DACA recipients – more uncertainty about what the future holds for them. We tend to think of DACA recipients as mostly young people and while that is true, some of them are almost 40 years old. They have families, careers, and they have to still keep persevering despite the fact that their life as they know it could be taken away from them at any moment. 

There is a possibility for Congress to do something. Regardless of what that something is, there is precedent for it. Congress can step up one way or another to end the controversy around the executive order. The real solution here is for Congress to act and to put something in front of President Trump to have some finality to this one way or another.