I have been studying and working in law for 70 years, and based on those decades of experience, I fear that the Supreme Court’s decision in the DACA cases, expected later this week, will test the public’s belief that law and justice intersect in America.
Legal scholars might well scoff at such a dramatic prediction, considering that the cases involve the interpretation of the esoteric Administrative Procedure Act (Ambien for law students), and that no matter the Court’s decision, it could be supplanted immediately or eventually by either the executive or legislative branches. But the Court’s verdict, no matter how fleeting, could have a profound effect on respect for the rule of law, particularly because it comes so closely on the heels of the heartless ruling on the Wisconsin election, which forced citizens to choose between protecting their lives and exercising their constitutional right to vote.
My concern requires a step back to consider what and who is involved here. The recipients of the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) policy were children brought to the U.S., many by their parents. Despite the president’s characterization of Mexican immigrants in general, I suspect that very few 5-year-olds were “bringing drugs, bringing crime” with them, or were “rapists.” By virtue of their age, few knowingly violated the laws of the United States when they came here; they were the most innocent of lawbreakers. As a result, the Obama administration decided to afford them protection from deportation, and to give them opportunities that they so clearly deserved.