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Photo: Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images

In a Thursday decision, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the Trump administration violated federal law when it ended the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) —  upholding protections from deportation for roughly 649,000 unauthorized immigrants in the U.S.

Why it matters: It's an unexpected victory for immigration activists. In the opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts, who sided with the liberal justices, wrote that the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) decision to rescind DACA in the fall of 2017 was "arbitrary and capricious."

Between the lines: The Trump administration has legal authority to end DACA, but the court found that the way it rescinded the program in 2017 violated federal law.

  • "The dispute before the Court is not whether DHS may rescind DACA. All parties agree that it may. The dispute is instead primarily about the procedure the agency followed in doing so," Justice Roberts wrote in the opinion.
  • Justice Roberts also wrote that DHS did not properly consider "what if anything to do about the hardship to DACA recipients" if the program were to be terminated.

By the numbers: DACA recipients were brought to the U.S. illegally as children — under 16 years of age — and many have grown up in the country.

  • Most are in their 20s and early 30s. Nearly half of DACA recipients are 26 years or older, according to data by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
  • 45% of active DACA recipients were living in California and Texas as of the end of 2019.
  • Top industries for immigrants who are eligible for the DACA program (but not necessarily actively enrolled) include food services, grocery stores and hospitals, according to analysis by New American Economy. These industries have become crucial during the coronavirus pandemic.

How we got here: Then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded DACA in the fall of 2017, which kicked off a long process of lawsuits and federal court decisions leading to the Supreme Court taking up the case in November of 2019.

What they're saying: Trump tweeted on Thursday, "These horrible & 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 2nd. Amendment & everything else. Vote Trump 2020!"

President Obama tweeted:

Eight years ago this week, we protected young people who were raised as part of our American family from deportation. Today, I'm happy for them, their families, and all of us. We may look different and come from everywhere, but what makes us American are our shared ideals. And now to stand up for those ideals, we have to move forward and elect Joe Biden and a Democratic Congress that does its job, protects DREAMers, and finally creates a system that’s truly worthy of this nation of immigrants once and for all.

Read the opinion.

Go deeper

House Democrats propose 18-year term limits for Supreme Court justices

The flag-draped casket of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg lies in repose at the Supreme Court. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

House Democrats are set to introduce a bill next week that would impose 18-year term limits on future Supreme Court justices, allowing a president to nominate two justices during each term in office.

The big picture: The bill, sponsored by Reps. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Don Beyer (D-Va.) and Joe Kennedy III (D-Mass.), seeks to depoliticize the process of placing new justices on the court — a fight that has taken on new light after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last week.

5 hours ago - Health

Food banks feel the strain without holiday volunteers

People wait in line at Food Bank Community Kitchen on Nov. 25 in New York City. Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Food Bank For New York City

America's food banks are sounding the alarm during this unprecedented holiday season.

The big picture: Soup kitchens and charities, usually brimming with holiday volunteers, are getting far less help.

7 hours ago - Health

AstraZeneca CEO: "We need to do an additional study" on COVID vaccine

Photo: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said on Thursday the company is likely to start a new global trial to measure how effective its coronavirus vaccine is, Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: Following Phase 3 trials, Oxford and AstraZeneca said their vaccine was 90% effective in people who got a half dose followed by a full dose, and 62% effective in people who got two full doses.