The Supreme Court of the United States just offered a win to so-called “Dreamers” when the justices decided Monday not to hear an appeal from the Trump administration about ending the program that protects them.
The court’s decision keeps the Obama-era program, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA, in place for now and allows undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children to continue to apply for work permits and protections from deportation. There's an estimated 800,000 young Dreamers in the U.S., many of whom have been here for more than 10 years and have few ties to their parents' native country.
The Trump administration announced in September that it would be ending the DACA program entirely by March 5, just over a week away.
The Supreme Court’s decision sends the case back to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which will consider whether a federal judge’s injunction to keep the program in place while Trump’s repeal of the program is tested in court is legal.
Multiple individuals protected by DACA, the University of California, and several states first sued the Trump administration over the repeal last September. They argued the move was arbitrary and motivated by discrimination. In January, Judge William Alsup of the U.S. District Court in Northern California ruled that the Trump administration must “maintain the DACA program on a nationwide basis” while the case plays out in court and that the repeal was based on the “flawed legal premise” that the Obama administration did not have legal authority to implement the program in 2012.
The Trump administration appealed to the 9th Circuit but also asked the Supreme Court to preemptively intervene. “Time is of the essence,” said the administration, in light of its planned March 5 termination of DACA.
The favorable ruling for the Dreamers comes as Congress has so far failed to produce a DACA bill of their own, despite months of negotiations. A bipartisan group of senators proposed a legislative fix in January that would keep DACA in place while ending the visa lottery system, a top priority for the Trump administration. But Trump shut that idea down at the infamous meeting where he derided immigration from “shithole” countries. Far-right forces in Congress and the White House have vowed not to get behind any immigration bill that doesn’t slash legal immigration.
If Congress remains gridlocked on immigration, the long-term court process may provide the definitive answer on DACA.
Cover image: President Donald Trump listens during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House, in Washington in this Jan. 10, 2018, file photo. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)