The Supreme Court on Monday rejected the Trump administration’s highly unusual bid to bypass a federal appeals court and get the justices to intervene in the fate of a program that protects hundreds of thousands of young immigrants from deportation. The announcement means the case affecting “Dreamers” will have to work its way through the lower courts before any Supreme Court ruling is possible. The case could also become moot if Congress takes action in the meantime.
Right now, however, efforts to address the issue in Congress have hit a stalemate. The Supreme Court’s decision for now to stay out of the case on the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, wasn’t surprising. It’s highly unusual for the Supreme Court to hear a case before a lower appeals court has considered it. But DACA supporters hailed the decision as a significant — if only temporary — win.
Trump said the case would now be heard by an appeals court and “we’ll see what happens from there.”
“You know, we tried to get it moved quickly because we’d like to help DACA. I think everybody in this room wants to help with DACA,” he said to visiting governors. “But the Supreme Court just ruled that it has to go through the normal channels.”
DACA has provided protection from deportation and work permits for about 800,000 young people who came to the U.S. as children and stayed illegally. In September, Trump argued that President Barack Obama had exceeded his executive powers when he created the program. Trump announced he was ending the program effective March 5 and gave lawmakers until then to come up with a legislative fix.
But in recent weeks, federal judges in San Francisco and New York have made Trump’s deadline temporarily moot for people who have sought and been granted renewals; the rulings do not extend to people who are applying for the first time. Judges issued injunctions ordering the administration to keep DACA in place while courts consider legal challenges to Trump’s termination. As a result, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services resumed accepting and processing DACA renewals in January, just as it had before Trump’s September announcement. T
he Trump administration has not tried to block the injunctions that force it to continue operating the program. Though the March 5 date is now moot, Greisa Martinez, policy and advocacy director for United We Dream, said DACA supporters planned to demonstrate in Washington on that day in part to continue to pressure Congress to act.