- In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court blocked the Trump administration from ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), which was put in place by President Obama in 2012.
- Under DACA, young immigrations who were brought to the country illegally could be protected from deportation and receive work authorization if they met certain qualifications.
- In 2017, the Trump administration announced it was ending DACA because Obama had acted illegally by enacting the program without congressional approval.
- The Supreme Court ruled that the Trump administration violated the federal law that governs administrative procedures when it ended the program.
SCOTUS Rules on DACA
The Supreme Court blocked the Trump administration’s attempt to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) on Thursday, a program that aims to assist young immigrants, often known as DREAMers, who were been brought to the U.S. illegally before the age of 16.
Under DACA, which was created by President Barack Obama through executive action in 2012, recipients are given protection from deportation and work authorization as long as they pursue education or military service and have a clean criminal record. Nearly 800,000 DREAMers have participated in the program since its initiation.
The Supreme Court decision comes as a striking blow for President Donald Trump, who has long criticized the program and made canceling it one of his central campaign promises.
In Septemeber 2017, Trump announced that he was going to wind down DACA and argued that it was illegal and unconstitutional because it was outside of Obama’s executive powers to create the program without Congress’ approval.
To back up this claim, the Trump administration has pointed to a memo sent to the Department of Homeland Security, which oversaw DACA, written by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
In that memo, Sessions claimed that DACA was unconstitutional and should be shut down because it would face litigation.
But numerous lower courts blocked Trump’s decision and ruled that the argument that Obama lacked authority to enact DACA did not hold up.
The issue was eventually appealed to the Supreme Court, where Trump’s lawyers argued that even if Obama did have the authority to implement DACA, Homeland Security had the power to get rid of it.
Robert’s Majority Opinion
However, the Supreme Court upheld the lower court rulings in a 5-4 vote, where the court’s four liberal justices were joined by Chief Justice John Roberts, who wrote the majority opinion.
Notably, Roberts argued that the decision was not based on DACA itself or even whether or not the DHS had the power to scrap it, but rather that the Trump administration failed to give an adequate reason to justify ending the program.
Roberts wrote that the Trump administration’s decision to end DACA was “arbitrary and capricious” and in violation of the federal law that governs administrative procedure.
“The dispute before the Court is not whether DHS may rescind DACA,” he wrote. “All parties agree that it may. The dispute is instead primarily about the procedure the agency followed in doing so.”
“We do not decide whether DACA or its rescission are sound policies. ‘The wisdom’ of those decisions ‘is none of our concern,’” he continued. “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.”
“That dual failure raises doubts about whether the agency appreciated the scope of its discretion or exercised that discretion in a reasonable manner. The appropriate recourse is therefore to remand to DHS so that it may consider the problem anew.”
As indicated in Robert’s remarks, the Supreme Court decision does not stop Trump from getting rid of DACA at some point in the future if his administration were to provide a stronger argument and follow proper federal procedures.
But if he were to proceed, there are a few issues. First of all, DREAMers are highly popular with the public— and not just Democrats.
A Politico/Morning Consult survey from earlier this month found that that a majority of those who voted for Trump in 2016 supported protecting DREAMers from deportation, and more than 75% of registered voters, said DACA recipients should be allowed to stay in the U.S.
DACA recipients are also important and successful parts of American society and the U.S. economy.
“DACA recipients have gotten advanced degrees; they have started businesses; they have bought houses, had children who are U.S. citizens; and 90 percent have jobs,” Nina Totenberg wrote for NPR. “Indeed, 29,000 are healthcare professionals, working on the front lines of the Covid-19 response.”
The DACA program is even popular with Republicans in Congress. Twice Senate Republican leadership worked closely with Democrats to craft deals that would protect the DREAMers, but both times Trump refused to sign the bills, and even threatened to veto one.
Another issue Trump could face if he tries to rid of DACA again is that it could take months, meaning any of his efforts would be put in limbo until after the election.
But, at least for now, the nearly 650,000 people who are currently DACA recipients are still protected. That alone is highly significant because, through the legal batter over the program, Trump administration officials have repeatedly said that they planned on deporting DREAMers if the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Trump.
In other words, if the ruling had gone the other way, people who are essential workers, parents of citizens, and major economic contributors—many of whom have lived in the U.S. most of their lives— could be sent back to countries they might not even remember.
See what others are saying: (NPR) (The New York Times) (The Washington Post)
Churches Protected Loophole in Abuse Reporting for 20 years, Report Finds
In some cases, Clergy members failed to report abuse among their congregation, but state laws protected them from that responsibility.
A Nationwide Campaign to Hide Abuse
More than 130 bills seeking to create or amend child sexual abuse reporting laws have been neutered or killed due to religious opposition over the past two decades, according to a review by the Associated Press.
Many states have laws requiring professionals such as physicians, teachers, and psychotherapists to report any information pertaining to alleged child sexual abuse to authorities. In 33 states, however, clergy are exempt from those requirements if they deem the information privileged.
All of the reform bills reviewed either targeted this loophole and failed or amended the mandatory reporting statute without touching the loophole.
“The Roman Catholic Church has used its well-funded lobbying infrastructure and deep influence among lawmakers in some states to protect the privilege,” the AP stated. “Influential members of the Mormon church and Jehovah’s witnesses have also worked in statehouses and courts to preserve it in areas where their membership is high.”
“This loophole has resulted in an unknown number of predators being allowed to continue abusing children for years despite having confessed the behavior to religious officials,” the report continued.
“They believe they’re on a divine mission that justifies keeping the name and the reputation of their institution pristine,” David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire, told the outlet. “So the leadership has a strong disincentive to involve the authorities, police or child protection people.”
Abuses Go Unreported
Last month, another AP investigation discovered that a Mormon bishop acting under the direction of church leaders in Arizona failed to report a church member who had confessed to sexually abusing his five-year-old daughter.
Merrill Nelson, a church lawyer and Republican lawmaker in Utah, reportedly advised the bishop against making the report because of Arizona’s clergy loophole, effectively allowing the father to allegedly rape and abuse three of his children for years.
Democratic State Sen. Victoria Steele proposed three bills in response to the case to close the loophole but told the AP that key Mormon legislators thwarted her efforts.
In Montana, a woman who was abused by a member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses won a $35 million jury verdict against the church because it failed to report her abuse, but in 2020 the state supreme court reversed the judgment, citing the state’s reporting exemption for clergy.
In 2013, a former Idaho police officer turned himself in for abusing children after having told 15 members of the Mormon church, but prosecutors declined to charge the institution for not reporting him because it was protected under the clergy loophole.
The Mormon church said in a written statement to the AP that a member who confesses child sex abuse “has come seeking an opportunity to reconcile with God and to seek forgiveness for their actions. … That confession is considered sacred, and in most states, is regarded as a protected religious conversation owned by the confessor.”
See what others are saying: (Associated Press) (Deseret) (Standard Examiner)
Texas AG Ken Paxton Allegedly Flees Official Serving Subpoenas in Truck
Following the news, a judge granted the attorney general’s request to quash the subpoenas.
Paxton on the Run
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton fled his own home in a truck Monday morning to evade an official trying to serve him a subpoena, according to an affidavit filed in federal court.
Last month, several nonprofits filed a lawsuit seeking to block Texas from charging individuals under the state’s abortion ban in cases that happened out of state or prior to Roe v. Wade being overturned.
Two subpoenas were issued summoning Paxton to a Tuesday court hearing, one for his professional title and the other addressed to him personally.
Early on Monday Ernesto Martin Herrera, a process server, knocked on the front door of Paxton’s home in McKinney and was greeted by Texas state senator Angela Paxton, who is the Attorney General’s wife.
According to the affidavit, Herrera identified himself and informed her that he was delivering court documents to Mr. Paxton. She responded that her husband was on the phone and in a hurry to leave, so Herrera returned to his vehicle and waited for Ken to emerge.
Nearly an hour later, the affidavit states, a black Chevrolet Tahoe pulled into the driveway, and 20 minutes after that, the attorney general stepped out.
“I walked up the driveway approaching Mr. Paxton and called him by his name,” Herrera wrote in the affidavit. “As soon as he saw me and heard me call his name out, he turned around and RAN back inside the house through the same door in the garage.”
Shortly afterward, Angela exited the house and climbed into a truck in the driveway, leaving a rear driver-side door open.
“A few minutes later I saw Mr. Paxton RAN from the door inside the garage towards the rear door behind the driver side,” Herrera wrote. “I approached the truck, and loudly called him by his name and stated that I had court documents for him.”
“Mr. Paxton ignored me and kept heading for the truck,” he continued.
The affidavit adds that Herrera placed the documents on the ground by the vehicle and stated that he was serving a subpoena, but the Paxtons drove away.
Process Server or Lingering Stranger?
Following the publication of the affidavit in The Texas Tribune, Ken attacked the news outlet on Twitter and claimed to fear for his safety.
“This is a ridiculous waste of time and the media should be ashamed of themselves,” he wrote. “All across the country, conservatives have faced threats to their safety – many threats that received scant coverage or condemnation from the mainstream media.”
“It’s clear that the media wants to drum up another controversy involving my work as Attorney General, so they’re attacking me for having the audacity to avoid a stranger lingering outside my home and showing concern about the safety and well-being of my family,” he continued.
On Monday, the attorney general filed two requests: a motion to quash the subpoena and another to seal the certificates of service, which included the affidavit.
His lawyers argued that Herrera “loitered at the Attorney General’s home for over an hour, repeatedly shouted at him, and accosted” him and his wife.
U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman granted both requests on Tuesday.
In a statement, the attorney general said that Herrera is “lucky this situation did not escalate further or necessitate force.”
See what others are saying: (The Texas Tribune) (CNN) (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)
Ron DeSantis Faces Lawsuit, Investigation for “Human Trafficking” of Migrants
A woman only known as “Pearla” allegedly lured the desperate migrants onto planes with monetary incentives and false promises.
A Political Stunt Blows Up in the Governor’s Face
After unexpectedly flying some 50 mostly Venezuelan migrants from San Antonio to Martha’s Vineyard last week, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is staring down a class action lawsuit, a local investigation, and a potential probe from the Justice Department.
On Tuesday, Lawyers for Civil Rights, in conjunction with the nonprofit Alianza Americas filed a federal class-action lawsuit on behalf of the migrants. The filing names DeSantis, the state of Florida, Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Jared Perdue, and their accomplices as defendants.
It alleges they fraudulently induced the migrants to cross state lines to Martha’s Vineyard, where shelter and resources were not prepared.
According to several accounts, the migrants were falsely promised work, free rent, and immigration assistance in exchange for taking the trip.
The migrants are seeking unspecified damages on top of the cost of their legal fees for emotional and economic harm.
On Monday, Texas Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar announced that he was opening an investigation into the migrant flights and DeSantis’s role in the scheme, which he called an “abuse of human rights.”
“They feel that they were deceived in being taken from Bexar County — from San Antonio, Texas — to where they eventually ended up,” he told CNN on Tuesday. “That could be a crime here in Texas and we will handle it as such.”
Salazar also said in a statement that his office was working with private attorneys representing the victims and advocacy organizations and that he was prepared to work with “any federal agency with concurrent jurisdiction, should the need arise.”
Since making the announcement, the sheriff’s office has been bombarded by threats via phone and email, according to a statement by a spokesperson.
Dylan Fernandes, a Massachusetts state lawmaker representing Martha’s Vineyard, called on the DoJ to launch a human trafficking probe into DeSantis Sunday.
He wrote on Twitter about the “inhumane acts,” saying, “Not only is it morally criminal, there are legal implications around fraud, kidnapping, deprivation of liberty, and human trafficking.”
A Mysterious Woman Named Pearla
Several migrants have told reporters, and claimed in the class action lawsuit, that they were lured onto the planes by a tall, blonde woman calling herself Pearla.
She reportedly approached them outside the San Antonio shelter, on the street, and in a McDonald’s parking lot, talking to them in broken Spanish.
Eduardo Linares, a migrant who said he rejected Pearla’s offer, told The Boston Globe that she promised them a free trip to Massachusetts and guaranteed work.
Another migrant named Alejandro told the outlet she offered him three months of free rent, job placement, and help with his immigration case.
The San Antonio Report interviewed a migrant named Emmanuel who said Pearla paid him $200 to recruit other migrants for the flights.
Tuesday’s lawsuit filing elaborates on their claims, saying that they were enticed with $10 McDonald’s gift cards to fly to Boston or Washington.
It alleges that the migrants were rounded up in hotel rooms while the scheme’s organizers gathered enough people to fill two planes, with them sequestered so they could not discuss the plan with anyone else.
“Once the individual Plaintiffs and class members landed, it became clear that the promises made to induce them on the planes were in fact bold-faced lies,” the filing says.
DeSantis defended himself on Fox News Monday night, saying, “They all signed consent forms to go and then the vendor that is doing this for Florida provided them with a packet that had a map of Martha’s Vineyard, it has the number for different services that are on Martha’s Vineyard.”
The brochures given to the migrants, however, listed services for refugees, not asylum seekers, and some migrants have said they weren’t aware of this fact. If the migrants were misled, the participants in the scheme could be criminally liable.
Who Pearla is and who employs her is still unknown, but DeSantis has publically taken credit for chartering the flights.
The League of United Latin American Citizens is offering $5,000 for information leading to the identification, arrest, and conviction of Pearla.
Two days after arriving in Martha’s Vineyard, the migrants voluntarily took shelter in a Cape Cod military base, which is designed for such emergency purposes.