November 20, 2019

Supreme Court Weighs DACA Termination; Dreamers in Limbo

CHALLENGING DACA TERMINATION: Princeton President Christopher L. Eisgruber, Maria Perales Sanchez, and Microsoft President Brad Smith attended arguments on termination of the DACA program at the U.S. Supreme Court last week. The Court is expected to render its decision in early 2020. (Photo by Princeton University, Office of Communications, Ben Chang)

By Donald Gilpin

As the Supreme Court continues to deliberate over the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and the fate of some 700,000 young adults who are affected by it, Princeton University and local agencies are working in support of the undocumented Dreamers.

The Supreme Court’s decision, expected early in 2020, may allow President Donald Trump to end the program, forcing DACA enrollments to expire and confronting DACA holders with deportation.

“The DACA deliberations in the Supreme Court will determine if they have jurisdiction over the matter,” said Latin American Legal Defense and Education Fund (LALDEF) Executive Director Adriana Abizadeh. ”If it is decided that they do not, hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients will ultimately have their status terminated because jurisdiction will be in the hands of the executive office.”

She continued, ”I can’t imagine a worse outcome. DACA recipients locally must make decisions regarding continued education, changes in employment, travel, and more under duress and uncertainty of the ruling that the Supreme Court will make. While we wait for the decision, we must continue to support our immigrant neighbors and raise our voices.”

Among those raising their voices are Princeton University, Microsoft Corporation, and Princeton graduate Maria Perales Sanchez, who last week at the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. attended oral arguments on challenges to the termination of DACA.

One of the first challenges to the federal government’s decision to end DACA came in the form of a November 2017 complaint filed by Princeton University, Microsoft, and Perales Sanchez, alleging that the program’s termination violated both the United States Constitution and federal law.

Princeton University President Christopher L. Eisgruber, in attendance at last Tuesday’s hearings along with Microsoft President and Princeton Trustee Brad Smith and Perales Sanchez, commented on the arguments presented to the justices.

He noted, according to a Princeton University press release, that the most important issues “are issues about the human consequences of this program and what it means for Maria and other DACA beneficiaries, and they are about the basic principles that this country has stood for over time — principles that encourage honest, hard-working people to make their homes here and that have made this country a beacon for freedom throughout its history.”

Perales Sanchez, a 2018 Princeton graduate, pointed out that a permanent resolution for DACA recipients “would mean having control over my life, which I think is a basic human right.” She recalled her decision to participate in the lawsuit, stating, as quoted in a November 6 Baltimore Sun article, “I wanted to stand with the migrant community, and this was a very particular opportunity … not every campus was asking to take on a lawsuit. So, I knew I was at a particular place for a reason.”

She added, “I wanted to fight back. I’m prepared to keep fighting.”

In a November 10 op-ed published in a TIME Ideas column on why Microsoft and Princeton University are taking their case to the Supreme Court, Smith and Eisgruber wrote, “Talent, from every source and background, is the lifeblood of innovation. As the presidents of Microsoft and Princeton University, we have seen firsthand how participants in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program contribute to our institutions and our country. Standing up for DACA students is not only the right thing to do morally, it is also the right thing to do competitively.”

Arguing that Dreamers like Maria and many employees at Microsoft “should be allowed to work, study, and thrive in the United States, not be forced to leave the only country they know as home,” Smith and Eisgruber’s op-ed stated, “Microsoft and Princeton came together to support DACA because it is a wise and humane policy. Leaders across higher education and business want a permanent solution for Dreamers because it is both an economic imperative and a humanitarian necessity.”