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After Supreme Court ruling, what’s next for American ‘Dreamers’

The Supreme Court handed President Trump a major legal defeat Thursday, overturning his decision to end protections for immigrants who arrived in the United States illegally as children. Chief Justice John Roberts sided with his four consistently liberal colleagues and wrote the majority opinion, arguing the administration was “arbitrary and capricious” in ending DACA in 2017. John Yang reports.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    The Supreme Court handed President Trump a big legal defeat today on a major focus of his domestic agenda. It overturned his decision to end protections for immigrants who arrived illegally as children.

    John Yang reports that Chief Justice John Roberts was the swing vote.

  • Protester:

    Say it loud, say it clear!

  • Protesters:

    Immigrants are welcome here!

  • John Yang:

    Jubilant DACA recipients and their supporters began gathering outside the Supreme Court shortly after the 5-4 decision was announced.

  • Jorge Benitez-Perez:

    I am very thrilled that the Supreme Court today made the right decision for me and for the other hundreds of thousands of DACAs that are out here.

  • Protesters:

    Home is here! Home is here!

  • John Yang:

    Chief Justice John Roberts provided the decisive vote, siding with his four consistently liberal colleagues and writing the majority opinion. He stressed that the court was not making a judgment on the policy itself, which he said "is none of our concern. We address only whether the agency complied with the procedural requirement that it provide a reasoned explanation for its action."

    Roberts acknowledged that the Department of Homeland Security had the legal ability to end deferred action for childhood arrivals, or DACA, when it acted in 2017. But he concluded the agency was arbitrary and capricious in the way it did it, especially for failing to consider the effect it would have on DACA recipients.

    In dissent, Justice Clarence Thomas, joined by Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch, called the decision "an effort to avoid a politically controversial, but legally correct decision."

    President Trump expressed his displeasure with this ruling and others, in a series of tweets: "These horrible and politically charged decisions coming out of the Supreme Court are shotgun blasts into the face of people that are proud to call themselves Republicans or conservatives. We need more justices, or we will lose our Second Amendment and everything else."

    Former Vice President Joe Biden, the president's presumptive opponent in the fall, hailed the decision, and tweeted: "On day one, I will send a build a Congress that creates a clear road map to citizenship for dreamers and 11 million undocumented people."

    Today's ruling may be only a temporary reprieve for the nearly 650,000 young undocumented immigrants protected by DACA.

    Theresa Cardinal Brown is the Bipartisan Policy Center's director of immigration policy.

  • Theresa Cardinal Brown:

    They just simply said that the Department of Homeland Security, in their memoranda, did not sufficiently justify the termination, the way that the law required them to do so.

    So, the actual order remanded it back to the Department of Homeland Security to try again, essentially.

  • John Yang:

    And they could do that? Try again?

  • Theresa Cardinal Brown:

    They could they could do that tomorrow.

  • John Yang:

    Today was the second time this week Roberts was in the majority with the liberal justices to reject an administration position. The first was Monday's landmark ruling that granted gay and transgender workers employment protection.

    Marcia Coyle is chief Washington correspondent for "The National Law Journal."

  • Marcia Coyle:

    He has shown that he is a stickler for rules. And the Trump administration, he found, had not followed the rules for when you want to make a change or make new regulations in government.

    What is sort of emblematic of John Roberts is that, when he can, he strives to find consensus. And, sometimes, that consensus requires a narrow opinion. John Roberts cares very much about how the court is perceived by the public, the institution's reputation and credibility.

    And that's all part of how I think he weighs, you know, trying to get consensus and trying to get a cross-ideological balance on the court whenever he can.

  • John Yang:

    President Obama created DACA eight years ago this week by executive order. It protects young immigrants brought to the country without proper documentation as children from being deported, and allows them to work legally.

    Since then, DACA recipients, known as 'Dreamers,' have jumped into the work force. Today, an estimated 27,000 are health care workers on the front lines in the fight against the coronavirus.

    Jose Aguiluz is a Baltimore surgical nurse who has been volunteering at a field hospital testing patients for COVID-19.

  • Jose Aguiluz:

    My patients really don't care about my immigration status. They just care that I'm a competent health care provider that is providing care in their time of need.

  • John Yang:

    Medical student Denisse Rojas has been volunteering at a clinic in East Harlem.

  • Denisse Rojast:

    I came to this country in 1990, so it's been 30 years since I have been in the United States now. And it's been my home. And it's truly the only place that I can remember.

  • John Yang:

    But DACA is not a permanent solution.

  • Theresa Cardinal Brown:

    Frankly, a majority of Congress has, at one time or another, voted for something that would give them legal status. It just hasn't been sufficient to get it enacted.

    So, they have another opportunity to try again and to get it right this time, and to give these people the permanent security and status that they want and desire.

  • John Yang:

    And that is up to the lawmakers in the U.S. Capitol.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm John Yang.

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