Trump immigration policy on the line as Supreme Court weighs DACA in arguments Tuesday

 cnbc.com  11/10/2019 14:15:36   Tucker Higgins
DACA supporter, Lauren Gonzales, protests the Trump administrations termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

President Donald Trump's decision to end the popular Obama-era immigration program that shields young migrants from deportation will be on the line Tuesday during oral arguments in a blockbuster case at the Supreme Court.

The justices will hear extended arguments concerning whether the administration's attempted termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was lawful. The program, put in place seven years ago, protects about 700,000 immigrants and allows them to receive work permits.

Trump sought to end the program in 2017 but was blocked from doing so by lower courts in California, New York and Washington, D.C. Trump has argued that President Barack Obama lacked the legal authority to institute the program, but has shied away from criticizing DACA as bad policy.

More than 4 in 5 Americans support granting U.S. citizenship to DACA recipients, who are sometimes called "Dreamers," according to a Gallup survey taken last year. More than 100 businesses, including some of the nation's largest and best known, have urged the high court to protect the program.

Read more: How Obama's border enforcer Janet Napolitano is fighting Trump on immigration at the Supreme Court

A decision is expected by the end of June, in the midst of the 2020 presidential election.

The case is one of the most important disputes of a jam-packed term, affecting millions of Americans with ties to DACA recipients. It is also the latest test of how a conservative Supreme Court with two Trump appointees will treat the president's policies.

The court has shown some deference to the president's immigration agenda  itallowed him to use disputed funds for construction of the U.S.-Mexico border wall and approved a version of his travel ban  but has also at times ruled against him. Justice Brett Kavanaugh replaced Justice Anthony Kennedy after the court's travel ban ruling.

In June, the court blocked Trump's efforts to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, which was opposed by civil rights activists who said the move would dilute the political representation of minority groups including Hispanics.

The arguments come as Trump is attempting to win over Hispanic voters in key states like Pennsylvania. The president's support among the demographic has held relatively steady, around 25%, in the years since he was elected. That has been true despite his harsh rhetoric on immigration and controversial policies such as separating families at the border.

The DACA case has attracted widespread attention, particularly from the nation's business community.

More than 100 businesses and business organizations, including Starbucks, IBM, Alphabet's Google, Amazon and Verizon, filed a brief last month arguing that ending the program would damage the economy and reduce job growth.

The businesses wrote that terminating DACA could wipe $460.3 billion from the GDP over the next decade and reduce tax revenue by $90 billion.

Apple CEO Tim Cook also submitted a friend-of-the-court brief defending the program, the first time he has personally lent his name to such a document, according to the company.

Brad Smith, president of Microsoft, a plaintiff in one of the cases before the court, wrote in a blog post published on Friday that its "fight is not just about our employees."

"It's also about the potential impact of DACA rescission on the hundreds of thousands of Dreamers, on businesses across the country, and on the innovation economy that is central to the nation's prosperity," Smith wrote.

On the other side, 13 conservatives states led by Texas have asked the court to allow Trump to end the program. The states claim that DACA is unlawful and that maintaining the program forces them to "provide social services like healthcare, education, and law enforcement to individuals whom Congress has declared unlawfully present."

House Democrats have tried in vain to move forward with legislation that would provide a path to citizenship for DACA recipients.

In June, they passed legislation with the votes of seven Republicans that would do so. But that bill is unlikely to make headway in the GOP-held Senate. The White House said at the time that Trump would veto the bill if it reached him.

Last month Trump tweeted that if the Supreme Court allows him to terminate the program "Republicans and Democrats will have a DEAL to let them stay in our Country, in very short order."

"It would actually benefit DACA, and be done the right way!" he wrote.

The DACA cases are Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of the University of California, No. 18-587, Donald Trump v. National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, No. 18-588 and Kevin McAleenan v. Martin Jonathan Batalla Vidal, No. 18-589.

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