When the Supreme Court announced its ruling in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals case on Thursday, I—like many other DACA recipients in America—felt an incredulous relief. For months, the possibility that our lives in America would be upended by just five people’s votes hung over us. Indeed, a central part of the undocumented experience for the past eight years has been to weather constant whiplash from a never-ending cycle of highs and lows across all three branches of government. But now, it seemed, the law would make room for what had always been true for us: Home is here.
These were the words DACA recipients chanted outside the Court last November, as we waited to enter oral arguments in the case. We still don’t know if we can count on staying for good, but we have always known that we are Americans, and that our advocacy for our place here is an essentially American endeavor. This is a country whose vision of citizenship is one of common responsibility—about making this place a home through our commitment to it, and constantly improving it for all who participate in its customs and institutions.
A persistent belief about America is that it is exceptional because it is governed by its people. Phrases like “To form a more perfect Union” and “Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth” replay in our national memory, reminding us that American self-government, as well as the most durable features of its political culture—separation of powers, rule of law, principled pluralism, and a scheme of ordered liberty—can best allow popular sovereignty to flourish. Indeed, a core assumption of American republicanism is that citizenship entails this responsibility of self-governance.