HLP Director Gunther Peck comments on Supreme Court’s DACA decision

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday rejected by a 5-4 vote President Trump’s effort to end legal protections for young immigrants who are part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA) created in 2012 under the Obama administration. Duke Today released this news tip featuring HLP Director Gunther Peck’s reaction. Peck regularly teaches immigration history at Duke.

Gunther Peck

“Today’s Supreme Court ruling is terrific news for the families of immigrants who have undocumented members, DACA recipients, and citizens among them, the reality for millions of people across North America,” says Gunther Peck, an associate professor of history and public policy studies at Duke University. “It’s a win for the hundreds of thousands of young people whose protection from deportation will remain in place, as well as for those families comprising citizens and non-citizens.”

“But the court did not in fact rule that DACA was above reproach, rather that the Trump administration’s efforts to end it had been ‘arbitrary and capricious.’ The Trump administration’s error, the court ruled, was procedurally unsound, a kind of power grab that violated institutional norms and administrative culture by not addressing the policy consequences of changing DACA.”

“In so doing, the court reframed the debate away from the question of ‘Should DACA recipients be citizens?’ to ‘What are the rules the executive branch must follow when making policy changes?’ ”

“No one disputed the executive branch’s right and capacity to administer or shape immigration law. Instead, the court ruled that American sovereignty must itself be process-driven, that bureaucracies have rights and norms which must be attended to. The implications of this ruling extend beyond the status of the undocumented then to the very nature of what ethical executive authority looks like.”

Gunther Peck is an associate professor of history and associate professor of public policy studies, can discuss immigration policy, the history of human trafficking and its relationship to the evolution of racial ideology and humanitarian intervention.

For additional comment, contact Gunther Peck at: