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Court's conservatives seem to back Trump on immigration

Hundreds of people gather outside the U.S. Supreme

Hundreds of people gather outside the U.S. Supreme Court to rally in support of the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals program as the court hears arguments about DACA November 12, 2019 in Washington, DC.  Credit: Getty Images/Chip Somodevilla

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court's conservative majority seems prepared to allow the Trump administration to end a program that allows some immigrants to work legally in the United States and protects them from deportation.

There did not appear to be any support among the five conservatives in extended arguments Tuesday for blocking the administration's decision to wind down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. It currently protects 660,000 immigrants who came to the United States as children and are here illegally.

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh were among the justices who indicated that the administration has provided sufficient reason for wanting to do away with the program. Justices Neil Gorsuch and Samuel Alito raised questions about whether courts should even be reviewing the executive branch's discretionary decisions.

The high court's decision is expected by June, at the height of the 2020 presidential campaign.

The program was begun under President Barack Obama. The Trump administration announced in September 2017 that it would end DACA protections, but lower federal courts have stepped in to keep the program alive.

President Donald Trump tweeted Tuesday that if the Supreme Court overturns the immigrants' protections "a deal will be made with the Dems for them to stay!" But Trump's past promises to work with Democrats on a legislative solution for these immigrants have not led to an agreement.

Trump said in his tweet that many program participants are "far from 'angels," and he falsely claimed that "some are very tough, hardened criminals." The program bars anyone with a felony conviction from participating. Serious misdemeanors may also bar eligibility.

About a hundred people — among them DACA recipients, family members and supporters— boarded two buses that departed early Tuesday from Long Island to join many rallying outside the Supreme Court.

“It was inspiring,” said Cheryl Keshner, an advocate with the Empire Justice Center, a nonprofit in Central Islip that works to protect the legal rights of people in underprivileged communities. “There’s a lot at stake, because, without DACA, so many people would be left without the ability to work and with the threat of deportation hanging over their heads.”

Eliana Fernández, an Ecuadorian immigrant who lives in Patchogue, is one of the plaintiffs challenging the Trump’s administration’s wind-down of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

Rally participant Victoria Hernández, an immigrant women’s advocate with nonprofit SEPA Mujer in Patchogue, said she was thinking of her 24-year-old daughter and all the other young people fearing the end of deportation protections. “Thanks to DACA, they have a better education and better jobs,” Hernández, 40, of Selden, said in Spanish. “We can’t allow for their dreams to be taken from their hands."

With Víctor Manuel Ramos

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