Immigrants and immigration advocates rallied on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court, Tuesday.
Inside, the justices heard arguments over the legality of a program vital to thousands of people brought to the U.S. illegally as children, known as ‘Dreamers.’ The program - Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals - or DACA, protects nearly 700,000 Dreamers from deportation.
And the Trump administration wants to end it.
Lower courts have so far left the program in place, and on Tuesday the sides had their day before the nine justices.
(SOUNDBITE)(English) NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL, LETITIA JAMES, SAYING: “This court should understand that this is a nation of immigrants and all of us should uphold the beliefs and values of our country and that is that immigrants are here to stay." New York Attorney General Letitia James is among those fighting to keep the program in place.
(SOUNDBITE)(English) NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL, LETITIA JAMES, SAYING: “…and we should protect again these 700,000 individuals who came here for opportunity, for education and for freedom.” During the hearing some of the conservative justices on the bench - like Trump appointees Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh - indicated support for the president's bid to kill the program.
The administration has argued that former President Barack Obama exceeded his constitutional powers when he created DACA by executive action, bypassing Congress.
For the plaintiffs, the stakes could not be higher.
Eliana Fernandez is a DACA recipient.
(SOUNDBITE)(English) DACA RECIPIENT ELIANA FERNANDEZ, SAYING: “I hope that the justices can see our humanity, our worth and our contributions that we make to this country as the good americans we are.
Therefore i hope that they rule on the right side of history.” Liberal justices emphasized the large number of individuals, businesses and others that have relied on the program.
The court currently has a 5-4 conservative majority.
A ruling is expected next summer.