DACA recipients demonstrate in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington Oct. 2, 2019. On Nov. 12, the court will hear arguments in a challenge to the Trump administration's termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. The case will affect the lives of more than 700,000 young people who were brought to the U.S. as minors without documentation. CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn

Catholic groups align to defend DACA Dreamers

By  Carol Zimmermann, Catholic News Service
  • November 8, 2019

WASHINGTON -- Catholic leaders joined more than 35 other groups that have filed  briefs urging the U.S. Supreme Court to support the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, known as DACA.

The groups want the high court to uphold three lower court rulings that have blocked President Donald Trump’s 2017 order to end DACA, which President Barack Obama initiated in 2012.

The program has protected about 800,000 young people, known as “Dreamers,” who came to the U.S. as children with their parents but without legal documentation. Most have the right to work, health insurance and a driver’s license and, above all, do not face deportation.

Catholic leaders were part of two separate amicus briefs in support of DACA, arguing that ending DACA presents “severe individual and social harm of family separation.”

Briefs were filed by more than 20 Catholic groups, including the U.S. Catholic bishops, congregations of women religious and provinces of men’s religious orders, Pax Christi USA and Catholic Charities agencies in New Jersey and New York.

The brief filed by the bishops and other Catholic organizations highlighted DACA’s benefits for its recipients and society at large, and it also took aim at the way the program was terminated.

“The only justification provided for rescinding DACA was a new belief that the program was unlawful,” the brief said, adding that the Department of Homeland Security “failed utterly to consider and address the drastic consequences of rescission — among them the mass-scale separation of families. This failure to consider the facts underlaying the program violates the APA, and therefore the rescission is unlawful.”

It said the decision to end DACA was “arbitrary and capricious” because it “failed to consider the severe individual and social harm of family separation.”

The Supreme Court will consider arguments on Nov. 12. DACA supporters have argued that Trump’s order to terminate the program violated the Administrative Procedure Act, or APA, a federal law which governs the ways federal agencies may make and enforce regulations.

Representing the government, the solicitor general has argued ending DACA is at the absolute discretion of the Department of Homeland Security. Its brief said it had several reasons to shut down DACA, stressing that it believed DACA violated federal law.

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