Pete Williams, NBC News, February 26, 2018
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear the Trump administration’s appeal of a federal judge’s ruling that requires the government to keep the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program going.
Under a lower court order that remains in effect, the Department of Homeland Security must continue to accept renewal applications from the roughly 700,000 young people who are currently enrolled in the program, known as DACA. The administration had intended to shut the program down by March 5, but that deadline is now largely meaningless.
In a brief order, the court said simply, “It is assumed the court of appeals will act expeditiously to decide this case.”
The Supreme Court’s denial Monday was expected, because the justices rarely accept appeals asking them to bypass the lower courts.
On Jan. 9, a federal judge in San Francisco, William Alsup, ruled in favor of the University of California and its president, former Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano. They sued to keep the program going after the Trump administration said in September that it would end it within six months. Alsup said Attorney General Jeff Sessions had wrongly concluded that DACA was put in place without proper legal authority.
The Justice Department said it would contest that ruling before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in California. But government lawyers also asked the Supreme Court to take the highly unusual step of agreeing to hear the case, bypassing the appeals court.
After the Supreme Court’s decision Monday, the White House said, “The DACA program — which provides work permits and myriad government benefits to illegal immigrants en masse — is clearly unlawful. The district judge’s decision to unilaterally re-impose a program that Congress had explicitly and repeatedly rejected is a usurpation of legislative authority…We look forward to having this case expeditiously heard by the appeals court and, if necessary, the Supreme Court, where we fully expect to prevail.”
Monday’s action by the Supreme Court leaves the DACA challenge pending before the California appeals court, where it is in the early stages. The Justice Department has said it will take at least another year to get back to the Supreme Court for a decision on DACA’s future.