The U.S. Supreme Court rejected on Monday, Feb. 26, a request from the Department of Justice (DOJ) to determine whether the Trump administration’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is legal under federal law.
However, the DOJ’s request was a rare one, and the Supreme Court should hear the case later this year. The DOJ and the Trump administration hoped the Supreme Court would bypass the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which currently holds the case after lower courts moved to keep DACA from ending. The west coast-based Ninth Circuit is considered a very liberal appeals court, making a DACA victory very unlikely for the Trump administration.
DOJ spokesman Devin O’Malley issued the following statement in response to the Supreme Court’s decision:
“While we were hopeful for a different outcome, the Supreme Court very rarely grants certiorari before judgment, though in our view it was warranted for the extraordinary injunction requiring the Department of Homeland Security to maintain DACA. We will continue to defend DHS’ lawful authority to wind down DACA in an orderly manner.”
The Supreme Court said the Ninth Circuit would “proceed expeditiously to decide this case” and place it into the nation’s highest court’s hands.
Former President Barack Obama created DACA—which protects an estimated 800,000 illegal aliens brought to the U.S. as children from deportation—in 2012. It later expanded into a program called Deferred Action for the Parents of Americans (DAPA), which was ruled illegal by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in 2015. The Department of Homeland Security under President Trump ended DACA last year, and protections were scheduled to begin expiring on March 5.
DACA has recently been used as a major bargaining point in the legislative debate on immigration. Trump and the Republicans have offered a path to citizenship for DACA recipients in exchange for border security and other immigration reforms, but no deal has been made with the Democrats as of yet.