Gov't Relations

Supreme Court Upholds DACA Protections for Undocumented Health Professions Students

By Tyler Smith, MPHJune 24, 2020

Image: Shutterstock

The fight continues to protect Dreamers.

On June 17, the Supreme Court issued a long-awaited decision in the case of the Department of Homeland Security vs. Regents of the University of California. In a 5-4 ruling, the Court reversed the Trump Administration’s 2017 rescission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which provides protection from deportation for undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children.

In 2012, the Obama Administration established the DACA program to provide temporary legal protection to those brought to the United States by undocumented parents. Following a 2017 order by the Trump Administration rescinding the program, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California issued a preliminary injunction preventing the implementation of the Administration’s order, which was upheld by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals before being considered by the Supreme Court.

Last year, PAEA joined 32 other health professions education organizations in filing an amicus brief to highlight the potential impact of the elimination of DACA protections on the health workforce pipeline. The signatories of the brief estimated that 27,000 health care professionals, in addition to students in training, currently rely upon DACA protections. In May, PAEA signed a letter to the Trump Administration and congressional leadership along with 77 other organizations in support of legislative or regulatory action to protect DACA recipients during the COVID-19 national emergency.

Following the Supreme Court’s decision, the White House announced its intention to continue efforts to dismantle DACA protections in a manner more likely to withstand legal scrutiny. In the absence of congressional action, the program remains vulnerable to executive action to terminate the program should such action adhere to procedural requirements.

“We applaud the Supreme Court’s decision in this case, but recognize that more work remains to be done, particularly on behalf of DACA recipients pursuing careers in the health professions. We call upon Congress and the Administration to enact permanent statutory protections for DACA recipients to ensure that these individuals can utilize their training to promote the health of our communities,” said PAEA CEO Mary Jo Bondy, DHEd, MHS, PA-C.

Members with questions about the Supreme Court’s DACA decision or PAEA’s advocacy regarding DACA should contact Tyler Smith at tsmith@PAEAonline.org.

Tyler Smith, MPH

Tyler is the director of government relations at PAEA. He is responsible for PAEA’s grassroots outreach initiatives and advancing the association’s legislative and regulatory priorities.