The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday ruled against an attempt by the Trump administration to end an Obama-era program allowing people who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children to work in the United States legally.
The final decision was 5-4, with Chief Justice John Roberts siding with the more liberal judges in the decision, according to NPR. Roberts wrote the majority opinion.
The decision means recipients known as “Dreamers” in Colorado have temporary legal status despite being undocumented. The Center for American Progress reports there are roughly 15,000 DACA recipients in Colorado. The Court called the Trump administration decision to end the program “was arbitrary and capricious.”
Fryda Faugier Ferreira, who works as a campus adviser at a Metro State University, took the day off today anticipating the worst. Faugier Ferreira was brought to the United States from Mexico as a child, first to California then to Colorado. She graduated from the University of Denver in 2018 and is a DACA recipient.
“This is the last thing I was expecting,” Faugier Ferreira said. “Literally last night, I went to bed not able to sleep, just because we were told to expect the worst. That’s what we’ve been expecting the last few months.”
Faugier Ferreira was still in shock on Thursday morning as she received congratulatory and supportive text messages. She said she was notified of the decision by a coworker.
She said the decision gives her the chance to feel like she can plan her life out a bit more.
“This is the first time in a long time that I finally feel that weight off my shoulders,” Faugier Ferreira said. “I feel like I can finally breathe a little bit.”
Denver resident Alejandro Flores-Munoz is a DACA recipient and co-owner of Stokes Poke, a catering food truck and pop-up food business based in the Westwood neighborhood. He said he had been getting up on most Mondays and Thursdays anticipating a potential decision on DACA.
“I was really excited,” Flores-Munoz said on Thursday. “And more importantly, I was relieved, because we no longer have to be checking every Monday and Thursday and pausing our lives for a decision. Now we can focus on having real, comprehensive immigration reform.”
President Barack Obama started the program by executive order in 2012. It allows people who are undocumented and were brought to the United States as children to work here legally. The Washington Post reported there were roughly 800,000 DACA recipients nationwide.
President Trump’s administration rescinded the program in 2017 after the Department of Justice declared it unconstitutional. But that prompted a legal challenge mounted by DACA supporters and recipients that eventually led to the Supreme Court. Arguments for the case were first heard in November 2019.
University of Colorado Law School associate professor Ming Hsu Chen, who focuses on immigration, race and civil rights, said in an email to Denverite while the court’s ruling is a victory for Dreamers, she warns “it should not provide a false sense of security that the DREAMers are fully protected.”
“The (Department of Homeland Security) retains the authority to end the program and their decisions about how to continue to implement the program needs to be carefully monitored,” Chen said in an email. “Congress, state/local governments, and universities can do their part to expand support for DREAMers by filling gaps in funding, continuing to support degree completion, and pushing for a pathway to citizenship.”
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock on Twitter called the ruling “a victory for decency and the American Dream over fear and hate.”
“These young people have known no other country but America,” Hancock said on Twitter. “The Trump Administration must move quickly to continue allowing #DACA recipients to renew their status.”
Locally, undocumented college students in Colorado have had access to financial aid after a bill signed into law by Gov. Jared Polis, a Democrat, in 2019.
Polis, Attorney General Phil Weiser and Secretary of State Jena Griswold, both Democrats, applauded the decision on Twitter on Thursday.
“I am thrilled that the thousands of DREAMers in Colorado will no longer be forced to live in fear and am glad the court made the right decision, although we still need Congress to act and create a pathway to citizenship,” Polis said on Twitter.