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  • Washington Highlights

    Supreme Court Rules Against the Termination of DACA


    Frank Trinity, Chief Legal Officer
    Matthew Shick, Sr. Director, Gov't Relations & Regulatory Affairs

    The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision on June 18 that the Trump administration did not provide adequate justification for terminating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The majority decision, authored by Chief Justice John Roberts and joined by Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor, vacated the 2017 rescission.

    Upon the ruling, AAMC President and CEO David Skorton noted, “The AAMC applauds the Supreme Court’s ruling today, which leaves the DACA program in place. DACA has allowed hundreds of thousands of law-abiding, tax-paying individuals to contribute to our country in countless ways.”

    The ruling allows more than 600,000 individuals to remain lawfully present in the United States and continue to work and attend school. This includes nearly 30,000 health care workers, of which 200 are medical students, residents, and physicians. 

    The court’s decision relied heavily on the fact that the administration had failed to consider reliance interests associated with the DACA program. In October 2019, AAMC filed an amicus brief on behalf of 33 health professional organizations that informed the court of the country’s reliance on DACA health professionals and warned that such individuals would be especially needed in the event of a pandemic [see Washington Highlights, October 4, 2019].  

    In April 2020, six months after oral argument, one of the plaintiffs filed a supplemental brief with the court relying heavily on the AAMC’s amicus brief and describing the courageous work of physicians, nurses, and other health professionals with DACA status who were on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    With the court’s ruling, the DACA program remains intact pending further action by the administration. Even with the Supreme Court decision, the AAMC continues to advocate for legislation providing a path of citizenship for DACA recipients [see Washington Highlights, May 6].