AUSTIN, Texas -- During a panel on civic engagement at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas Tuesday, attorneys provided a policy briefing on the status of the Deferred Action of Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

  • Attorneys provided briefing on the status of DACA at UT Tuesday
  • Program remains in place for now but time running out 
  • Supreme Court will determine if Trump administration acted properly in rescinding DACA 

As of now, DACA still has a pulse but the program may be on its last leg. Its fate rests with the Supreme Court justices. 

“This isn’t a case dealing with the underlying constitutionality of DACA but whether their actions were arbitrary and capricious and whether they failed to follow rule-making processes in rescinding DACA,” says Brian Stansbury, an attorney with King & Spalding LLP.

Stansbury is a co-founder of the UndocuNeighbor Initiative, which has provided pro bono legal assistance to families separated at the border and to a number of so-called DREAMers seeking to renew their DACA status.

Immigrant rights advocates have argued in court, and so far successfully, that President Trump’s decision to rescind the program was irrational.

“The current case before the Supreme Court will address whether the Trump administration acted properly when they rescinded DACA,” says Stansbury.

Critics argue DACA was unconstitutional when it was announced by then-President Obama in 2012, but others argue that’s a protected power of the Chief Executive.

“That is actually a right that the president has. It is an enumerated right of them being able to decide who can leave and who can stay, when and how,” says UT student Juany Torres.

The Supreme Court could hand down a ruling next summer, months before voters head to the polls. Speculating on what the decision could look like is in vain.

“The order from SCOTUS could also be very limited. The Supreme Court could say the Trump administration improperly ended DACA this time but lay out a pathway for how the administration could lawfully do it.”  

For now, DACA is alive and so-called DREAMers are still able to file renewals for work permits and driver's licenses.

“Regardless of the political situation and the back and forth under this administration, it stands as of now.”

Other avenues could be explored, but doing so is cost prohibitive for many undocumented immigrants. Stansbury and Torres urge DREAMers to reach out to Voto Latino for immigrants seeking assistance, pro bono.

“If DREAMers are worried about DACA they should still email to be able to get some information and really, specialized attention, and see if they have a different avenue for their case that they can approach their residency or legal status,” says Tores.

There are roughly 700,000 DACA recipients in the country.

Texas has the second highest share of that number and according to the Center for American Progress, if the rollback is upheld, Texas could stand to lose nearly $6.3 billion in annual GDP.​