Statement: Split Supreme Court Leaves DAPA, Expanded DACA Hold in Place, Fails to Address Harm to Children

Washington, D.C.A 4-4 split Supreme Court decision in the case of U.S. v Texas, leaves in place the decision by a lower-court judge that President Obama’s 2014 executive actions on immigration cannot proceed for the time being. The actions, known as the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and the expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programs, would defer deportation and authorize work for eligible immigrant parents of U.S. citizen children and others with long-term ties to the country. The earlier DACA program enacted in 2012 is not affected by this ruling and remains in place.

“Failing to take action is a missed opportunity to secure America’s future by advancing the health and wellbeing of an estimated 5 million U.S. citizen children with unauthorized parents—children who live in fear of potential separation from their parents due to parents’ detention or deportation. While today’s tie ruling does not establish Supreme Court precedent, it places at risk these children’s education and healthy development and undermines economic opportunity for millions of U.S. families,” said Olivia Golden, executive director of CLASP.  

In an amicus brief submitted to the Supreme Court, CLASP along with 75 other children’s and educator organizations explained the strong evidence drawn from child development research for implementing the DAPA and extended DACA programs.  

Young citizen children in particular experience developmental harm as a result of their parents’ unauthorized status. Children of unauthorized immigrants are more likely than their peers to live in poverty—which itself has long-lasting negative implications for healthy development—and they are also likely to experience enormous fear and stress as a result of even the possibility of separation from their parents. The DAPA program offers the opportunity to reduce parent and child stress caused by fear. It would allow eligible youth and families to come forward, pursue better economic opportunities—including workforce training opportunities and improved jobs. And it would allow parents to feel more comfortable accessing educational and other resources for their U.S. citizen children.

“CLASP is deeply disappointed in today’s missed opportunity to immediately advance the health and wellbeing of millions of U.S. citizen children. We will be working with partners in the coming months to ensure that all children in this country, including those in immigrant families, have access to opportunity and economic security,” added Golden.