Supreme Court Declines to Step Into DACA Fight

Move means status of immigrants to remain in limbo for now

Dreamers protested outside of the Capitol in January 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Dreamers protested outside of the Capitol in January 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted February 26, 2018 at 10:16am

The Supreme Court announced Monday it won’t immediately step into the legal fight over the Trump administration’s cancellation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

The move leaves in limbo nearly 700,000 “Dreamers” who arrived in the U.S. illegally as children since the Trump administration won’t be able to end the DACA program until the appeals move through the courts. That could take months — well past the March 5 deadline the government had set to wind down the program created by President Barack Obama in 2012.

If the justices had stepped in, the Supreme Court could have decided the case by the end of June. Instead, rulings from two federal district courts that blocked the government from ending DACA will stand until the legal challenge is resolved.

“It is assumed that the Court of Appeals will proceed expeditiously to decide this case,” a two-sentence order states.

Watch: Congressional Hispanic Caucus Asks for DACA Solution as Deadline Expires

Loading the player...


The government had appealed one of those rulings to the Supreme Court and, in a rare step to leapfrog the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, asked the justices to overturn the lower court order quickly.

White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah said the administration “fully expects to prevail” in the case at the appellate level or Supreme Court.

“The DACA program — which provides work permits and myriad government benefits to illegal immigrants en masse — is clearly unlawful,” Shah said in an e-mail statement. “The district judge’s decision unilaterally to re-impose a program that Congress had explicitly and repeatedly rejected is a usurpation of legislative authority.”

Last month, a federal judge in Brooklyn blocked the administration from ending the program and said Trump’s argument that the program is unconstitutional and therefore indefensible was “arbitrary and capricious.” In January, a federal judge in California issued a similar order.

The legal fight is playing out on the heels of a fruitless attempt by the Senate to legislate a path to citizenship for Dreamers. There is a slim chance of senators taking up immigration again after three attempts to compromise — two of them bipartisan efforts — were rejected earlier this month on procedural votes.

Conservatives in the House are still pushing Republican leaders to hold a vote on a bill by Judiciary Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte, R-Va., which would grant legal status to Dreamers in return for a laundry list of GOP immigration enforcement priorities. It’s unlikely that bill would pass the Senate, where support from Democrats would be needed to reach a 60-vote threshold.

“Pass a conservative bill in the House and then make the Senate come to us and the president if they really want to deal with it,” said Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., chairman of the hard-right House Freedom Caucus, during a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday.

Lindsey McPherson contributed to this report.Watch: How the Senate Immigration Debate Stalled

Loading the player...