How President Trump And Congress Reacted To Supreme Court's DACA Decision

Jun 18, 2020
Originally published on June 18, 2020 6:37 pm
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AILSA CHANG, HOST:

A big week for the U.S. Supreme Court just got bigger. The court today rejected the Trump administration's effort to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. DACA was created in 2012 by President Obama, and it allows roughly 650,000 people brought to the country illegally as children to stay here. Chief Justice John Roberts joined the four liberal justices in the 5-4 decision. NPR White House correspondent Franco Ordoñez and NPR congressional correspondent Susan Davis join us now to discuss the reaction from the president and Capitol Hill and the political implications of the ruling. Hey to both of you.

SUSAN DAVIS, BYLINE: Hey, Ailsa.

FRANCO ORDOÑEZ, BYLINE: Hello.

CHANG: So, Franco, let's start with you. Tell us what we should know first about this decision.

ORDOÑEZ: Well, I think it's also important to note that Chief Justice John Roberts, who wrote the majority opinion, said Trump could eventually end the program. But he said the way that Trump tried to do it this time was wrong. He called it arbitrary and capricious. So it was about procedure. So there is a window for Trump to try to do this again. And some of his supporters are already calling for him to take John Roberts up on his word and start a new process of getting rid of DACA.

CHANG: So how is the White House responding so far?

ORDOÑEZ: Well, I can tell you that the president is not happy. He's lashing out at the Supreme Court. Barely an hour after the ruling, Trump fired off two tweets expressing his anger. He wrote, 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. He called for support in November. And he announced he will release a new list of conservative judges to pick from if he gets another nominee on the Supreme Court - for the Supreme Court. And we should also note that these are lifetime appointments, and there's no current vacancy. And in another tweet, President Trump asked whether people, quote, "get the impression the Supreme Court doesn't like him."

CHANG: Sue, let's turn to you. I mean, this decision - in a way, it does take the pressure off of Congress once again to act on immigration because when Trump rescinded DACA, he kicked it over to Congress to act. So now, what's been the reaction among lawmakers?

DAVIS: You know, Democrats were really surprised, they did not think that the court was going to rule this way. They were expecting it to go the other way. So Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer was on the floor of the Senate when he found out, he got really emotional on the floor. He got choked up. The reaction from Republicans has been more muted. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters - he said that the ruling is just a reminder that Congress ultimately has more work to do on this issue.

And it's important to remember that DACA was created because Congress has been unable to solve this problem and has been unable to act. And the really only long-term solution for these people affected by DACA, for the people who are brought here as children illegally who are now residing in the country is a law. And there has been in the past bipartisan support for what - for the so-called DREAMers. And it's an overwhelmingly popular idea with the public. It's not as controversial as the president's tweets would suggest, but it's always gotten caught up or tied up in the broader immigration reform debate and has been ultimately unable to become law.

CHANG: Franco.

ORDOÑEZ: And, you know, I'll just add that, you know, it's another wrinkle that, even for President Trump, this does help him in some ways. While it's tough to argue that losing a Supreme Court decision is good for a president...

CHANG: Right.

ORDOÑEZ: ...It does remove what the president had - what would have been a very difficult challenge come the fall time of the election season. He was concerned, very concerned about being seen as the president who deported this very sympathetic group of young immigrants. And, frankly, few thought he actually would have gone and started to do that before the election, but instead would have tried to use this decision as leverage to get more - get a deal done with Congress.

CHANG: So, Sue, going back to what you were saying, I mean, does this mean that there will be no immigration legislation this year?

DAVIS: Well, there already has been immigration legislation. When Democrats took over the House last year, they passed the DREAM Act. And it passed with a little bit of bipartisan support. Seven Republicans also supported it. But its chances are now up to the Senate. And Minority Whip Dick Durbin - he counts the votes in the Senate for Democrats - talked to NPR today. And he was pretty clear-eyed about the chances of it getting a vote.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

DICK DURBIN: Right now, it would be a death-defying act in the Senate, but we ought to try for the sake of these 700,000 young people and their families.

DAVIS: A death-defying act. He's talking about Senate Republicans because the issue of immigration is just so volatile, especially in primaries. And as you noted, this takes it off the table essentially throughout the end of the year. And Congress is unlikely to do anything unless there would have been pressure to act.

CHANG: Right. Well, here's a question for both of you. You know, legislation to address the citizenship of those brought here illegally as children was first introduced about 20 years ago. Can you guys just explain why this debate has been so intractable for Washington to solve, and what might it mean for the presidential election, you think? Sue, let's start with you.

DAVIS: I just think you have to take a step back. This is much bigger than Donald Trump, right? This goes back through the presidencies of George W. Bush through Barack Obama, all presidents who tried and failed to get immigration bills that would attempt to solve this question through Congress. And it's not always been a right-left issue. There used to be a much broader bipartisan coalition here. And I like to remind people that 10 years ago, the Senate almost passed the DREAM Act. And it didn't happen because five conservative Democrats blocked it from happening. So it's evolved over the years. I think, in this current climate, the president has made it a much more ideological culture war-type issue.

CHANG: Franco.

ORDOÑEZ: Well, it really is a bigger issue than Donald Trump. And the reality is that, on each side, the sides look at this from a very different perspective. And each side has so many emotions baked into all these different issues.

CHANG: That is NPR's Franco Ordoñez and Sue Davis. Thanks to both of you.

DAVIS: You're welcome.

ORDOÑEZ: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.