Hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients--many of who are entrepreneurs or employed by small businesses--just breathed a collective sigh of relief this week. 

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, a federal appeals court in California, on Thursday upheld a previous ruling that blocked the Trump administration from terminating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The Obama-era program, which staves off the deportation of about 700,000 undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, was rescinded in September of 2017.

"We conclude that plaintiffs are likely to succeed on their claim that the rescission of DACA --at least as justified on this record--is arbitrary, capricious, or otherwise not in accordance with law," reads the opinion from Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw.

In the U.S., 90 percent of  DACA recipients, also known as Dreamers, who are aged 16 and older are employed, according to research from the New American Economy, self-described as a bipartisan research and immigration advocacy organization. About 4.5 percent of them are entrepreneurs and made $658.7 million in total business income in 2015, the latest year for which NAE has data. 

Still, the legal battle is far from over. On Monday, the Trump administration preemptively asked the Supreme Court to take up the case, even before the 9th Circuit Court issued its ruling. As it stands now, DACA supporters, or challengers to the government's petition, need to file their response with the court before December 5. That means the justices could announce whether they'll take up the case as soon as mid-January, says Ashima Duggal, an immigration lawyer based in Silicon Valley.

"In this 9th circuit decision, the court reviewed 100 years of presidential administration decisions that are immigration-related," says Duggal, who adds that based on that analysis, the three-judge panel found former President Obama had the authority to create DACA with an executive order. 

"DACA is a very narrow program that doesn't give legal status, and doesn't violate any current immigration laws," she adds. "If the Supreme Court...makes the decision based strictly on presidential history and legal analysis, DACA should remain a valid program," Duggal says. "But if the Supreme Court is motivated politically, I would be very concerned."

Published on: Nov 9, 2018