WASHINGTON (AP) - Sharply at odds with liberal justices, the Supreme Court‚Äôs conservative majority seemed ready Tuesday to allow the Trump administration to abolish protections that permit 660,000 immigrants to work in the U.S., free from the threat of deportation.
That outcome would ‚Äúdestroy lives,‚ÄĚ declared Justice Sonia Sotomayor, one the court‚Äôs liberals who repeatedly suggested the administration has not adequately justified its decision to end the seven-year-old Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Nor has it taken sufficient account of the personal, economic and social disruption that might result, they said.
But there did not appear to be any support among the five conservatives for blocking the administration. The nine-member court‚Äôs decision is expected by June, at the height of the 2020 presidential campaign.
President Donald Trump said on Twitter that DACA recipients shouldn‚Äôt despair if the justices side with him, pledging that ‚Äúa deal will be made with the Dems for them to stay!‚ÄĚ But Trump‚Äôs past promises to work with Democrats on a legislative solution for these immigrants have led nowhere.
The president also said in his tweet that many program participants, brought to the U.S. as children and now here illegally, are ‚Äúfar from ‚Äėangels,‚Äô‚ÄĚ and he falsely claimed that ‚Äúsome are very tough, hardened criminals.‚ÄĚ The program bars anyone with a felony conviction from participating, and serious misdemeanors may also bar eligibility.
Some DACA recipients who are part of the lawsuit against Trump‚Äôs action were in the courtroom for the arguments, and many people camped out in front of the court for days for a chance at some of the few seats available.
The high court arguments did not involve any discussion of individual DACA recipients or Trump‚Äôs claims.
Instead the focus was on whether either of two administration rationales for ending DACA, begun under President Barack Obama, was enough.
Trump‚Äôs anti-immigrant rhetoric was a key part of his presidential campaign in 2016, and his administration has pointed to a court ruling striking down the expansion of DACA and creation of similar protections, known as DAPA, for undocumented immigrants whose children are U.S. citizens as reasons to bring the program to a halt.