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What's at stake as the Supreme Court takes up immigration

Protestors hold signs saying "Defend DACA"
Photo: Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images

More than two years after the Trump administration's attempt to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, the DACA case will finally come before the Supreme Court on Tuesday.

Driving the news: Trump’s move to end the program that protects hundreds of thousands of young, unauthorized immigrants from deportation was stymied by lower courts. The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments today over DACA and Trump's power to end it.

This case matters because however the Supreme Court rules will directly affect the lives of 700,000 young people who are at our colleges and universities, in our military, serving as teachers as nurses, as doctors, lawyers,” University of California president and former Department of Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano, who has led one of the lawsuits against Trump over DACA, told Axios.

  • “And they are a group that we should want to have in our country. Why should we want to kick them out?“

Two big questions: Did the Trump administration end DACA in a legally appropriate way? And do the courts have the authority to intervene at all?

What to watch: There are three potential outcomes, according to experts:

  1. The Supreme Court could agree with lower courts and reject Trump's rationale for ending DACA, forcing the White House to come up with a different reason or give up and let the program continue.
  2. It could say that, just as President Obama created DACA on his own, Trump can end it on his own.
  3. It could agree with the administration's argument that DACA is illegal, which would prevent a future administration from ever reviving it.

What they're saying: The challengers argue that the Trump administration violated the Administrative Procedure Act by ending DACA the way it did.

The other side: The Justice Department argues that just as Barack Obama used executive action to create DACA, the Trump administration also has the discretion to end it.

The bottom line: The Supreme Court's decision will determine whether hundreds of thousands of people who have grown up in and worked in the U.S. will be forced to return to where they were born. It could shape federal immigration law for years.

  • And it will bring the heated immigration debate to the forefront again as the 2020 general election season ramps up. A ruling is expected by late June.