WASHINGTON — Can President Donald Trump put an end to legal protections for a group of undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States years ago as children?
The U.S. Supreme Court will consider that question Tuesday — and its answer will determine the fates of hundreds of thousands of young adults across the country.
On the docket are three high-profile cases that explore whether the Trump administration violated federal law when it rescinded a program that allows certain undocumented immigrants — those who arrived to the United States before they turned 16 — to apply for temporary legal protections.
The Trump administration contends that the program — created in 2012 by the Obama administration — is illegal and that such matters of immigration policy must be made by the legislative branch. What’s more, it maintains that its decision to end the program falls under its purview and is therefore not subject to judicial review.
A ruling in favor of the Trump administration would not necessarily result in the immediate deportation of these so-called Dreamers, according to Steven Schwinn, a law professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago. But it would threaten their ability to live in the United States and would deprive them of legal authorization to work and to access certain social benefits.
That, supporters say, would be a travesty for a group praised by progressives for hard work, ambition and contributions to the economy and to society generally. More than 90 percent of Dreamers are employed and almost half are in school, according to a 2017 survey conducted by the Center for American Progress. Governing magazine estimates there were about 12,000 DACA recipients in Virginia as of 2017. The same year, there were an estimated 1,200 DACA students at Virginia colleges.
The Virginia Mercury is a new, nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization covering Virginia government and policy.