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With DACA protections still in place, recipients in limbo

For the nearly 700,000 undocumented children that came to the U.S. as children, the Supreme Court’s decision this week to not intervene after a California court ordered for DACA to temporarily remain in place came as a reprieve. USA Today’s Alex Gomez joins Hari Sreenivasan from Miami to discuss what comes next and how the decision may not protect all DACA recipients from deportation.

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  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    For some 700,000 undocumented immigrants brought to this country as children, this coming Monday was the day they fear. It was the day President Trump set for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program or DACA to expire. But this week, the Supreme Court decided not to step in after a lower court ruled the Trump administration wrongly moved to end DACA. That keeps the program in place for at least six months as that case is set to go through more rounds of appeals. This gives lawmakers more time to agree on a permanent fix but it still leaves many dreamers in limbo. For more, I'm joined by USA Today immigration reporter Alan Gomez. Alan, so why did the Supreme Court say, you know, what just let the process take its course?

  • ALAN GOMEZ:

    Yeah I mean this was very much a procedural move. What happened is, a federal judge in California ruled that the Trump administration used a flawed legal argument to shut down the program and ordered the Department of Homeland Security to restart it and continue processing renewals for these DACA recipients. Usually, the next step should have been for the Department of Justice to appeal to the Circuit Court of Appeals in California but they took the incredibly rare step of trying to leapfrog that court and go straight to the Supreme Court. And so, all the Supreme Court said this week, it didn't rule on the legality of DACA or on whether the Trump administration was right or wrong in terminating it. All they said was no, go back, go through the regular course of the appeals and we'll get back to you if it reaches the court again.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    What happens to the people that are kind of in this middle transition who might have been registered or might have been in line?

  • ALAN GOMEZ:

    For the vast majority of DACA recipients this is a huge reprieve. By the time it goes through the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and eventually gets back to the Supreme Court, we're talking six months maybe a year, so there are protections remain in place for quite a while. But there is a group of DACA recipients, could be as little as 10,000 probably more, they've filed for their renewals but because the program was stopped and then restarted there's now this huge backlog in Washington to process those renewals. So technically a lot of them are losing their deportation protections. They're in line there. They're waiting to get the renewal process but it's not clear if that's going to matter to the ICE agent who pulls them over or who encounters them and whether they will be arrested and face deportation.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    What's the likelihood the Congress uses this six months wisely and tries to come up with a permanent fix? There seemed to have been some momentum but it has slowed.

  • ALAN GOMEZ:

    Yeah, they're moving on. They're going to pretty much push it off for a while because of the timing of it, because it might take a year for this. That means it's off their congressional calendar for now. It means it's probably off the table as a major election issue coming into November. And so for them it's a lot easier to say, OK we'll get to it later.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    During this time the ICE raids have not stopped. In fact this week There was one in Northern California. I think the number was 232 people that were rounded up in this. And there was kind of an interesting circumstance, the mayor of Oakland there seemed to have given a warning to her larger community?

  • ALAN GOMEZ:

    Yeah. We've heard community activists raise the red flag when ICE agents are going through a neighborhood but this is probably the highest ranking official as Mayor Libby Schiff in Oakland, who put out a call saying it looks like there's some ICE raids going on in the community, be on the lookout for this. ICE responded incredibly angrily over this saying you're pretty much tipping off the people that were going after, you're putting our ICE agents at risk by doing this. The reasoning behind it is that ICE isn't just going after people you know, convicted murderers or felons. They're also picking up anybody else that they encounter along the way. So the argument is that look, we're putting out the word for these you know, sort of innocent undocumented immigrants who haven't committed other crimes to let them know that this is happening. And this raid, there's 232 people arrested only half of them had a prior criminal conviction. So yeah this is a very controversial way of doing it as ICE says it puts their agents very much at risk. And I wonder if we're going to start seeing more of this from local government leaders.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    All right. Alan Gomez of USA Today joining us from Miami. Thanks so much.

  • ALAN GOMEZ:

    Thank you.

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