The US Supreme Court has rejected President Donald Trump administration’s plan to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program which grants undocumented immigrants brought to the nation as children permission to live and work lawfully.
The justices, in a 5-4 decision on Thursday, ruled that the administration failed to give an adequate justification for terminating DACA, reports Xinhua news agency.
“The dispute before the Court is not whether (Department of Homeland Security) may rescind DACA. All parties agree that it may,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in a majority opinion that was joined by the court’s more liberal justices.
“The dispute is instead primarily about the procedure the agency followed in doing so.”
Justice Clarence Thomas, in his dissent, argued that the Obama-era program was “unlawful from its inception”.
DACA was established in 2012 by former President Barack Obama’s administration. It protects “Dreamers” – undocumented youths brought to the US as children.
Most of the children protected by the DACA programme are from Mexico and other Latin American countries.
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump, who has made the abolishment of the program a key part of his hardline immigration policy, lashed out at the Supreme Court decision on Thursday.
“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,” Trump wrote in a series of tweets.
“As President of the United States, I am asking for a legal solution on DACA, not a political one, consistent with the rule of law.
“The Supreme Court is not willing to give us one, so now we have to start this process all over again,” he added.
He also said he will release a list of conservative Supreme Court Justice nominees in coming months.
Roughly 700,000 people are now enrolled in DACA, which allows a renewable two-year deferral from deportation and makes applicants eligible for work permits, driver’s licenses, and health insurance.
Trump announced intentions to rescind DACA in September 2017.
There are five conservatives and four liberal justices on the nation’s Supreme Court.
Its decision to preserve DACA on Thursday marked the third time Roberts cast the deciding vote on a major Trump immigration policy and is likely to further cement his image as the court’s new swing vote.
Also on Thursday, Obama praised the ruling and urged voters to elect a Democratic President and Congress in November to ensure “a system that’s truly worthy of this nation of immigrants once and for all”.
Joe Biden, the expected 2020 Democratic presidential nominee, said he would seek to make the programme permanent should he win the election.
DACA recipients told BBC that they were relieved and surprised by the ruling on Thursday, and many said they would continue advocating for immigration reform.
“It’s a very needed win and this is giving us the fuel we needed to continue moving forward and to keep fighting for the rest of our families and the community that does not have DACA,” one recipient said.
“As big of a victory that this is, we have to keep applying pressure that we have to keep fighting for other people who are just as able and capable but who do not have this protection,” another said.