Congress

Supreme Court to review cancellation of DACA program

Taking the case puts justices in the middle of the heated debate over immigration policy during the 2020 campaign season

Immigration rights demonstrators prepare to march from the White House to the Trump Hotel and the Justice Department to oppose President Trump's decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program for "Dreamers" on Sept. 5, 2017. The Supreme Court will decide next term whether the Trump administration can end the DACA program. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Supreme Court will decide next term whether the Trump administration can end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, putting the justices in the middle of the heated debate over immigration policy during the 2020 campaign season.

The court announced Friday that it will hear arguments in a trio of legal challenges to save the Obama-era program—from California, New York and District of Columbia — in the term that starts in October. Any decision would likely be released before the end of June 2020, at the height of the presidential election.

Department of Homeland Security and other Trump officials asked the quick high court for a quick review of whether the administration’s September 2017 decision to revoke the program was lawful, and whether the federal courts can review that decision at all.

The 2012 policy allowed the government to use discretion not to deport so-called “Dreamers” who arrived in the United States illegally as children. The Trump administration determined the policy was unlawful and unconstitutional.

The government then sought to wind down the program in March 2018. But lower federal courts have required the government to maintain the DACA policy nationwide that applies to hundreds of thousands of Dreamers, ruling that ending the program was unlawful because the government didn’t adequately explain its decision.

The involvement of the justices in the issue could also have an effect on legislative efforts in Congress, which have heated up this month. The Trump administration told the Supreme Court in a brief last year that the uncertainty around the litigation “would continue to impede efforts to enact legislation addressing the legitimate policy concerns underlying the DACA policy.”

The House this month passed and sent to the Senate on Tuesday a bill that would grant permanent citizenship to up to 2.5 million undocumented immigrants, including “Dreamers.” But it was mostly a party-line vote and looks resigned to the fate of many immigration bills among partisan divide in Congress.

Many Republicans think Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell won’t bring up the House bill in the Senate, and the Trump administration threatened to veto the bill even if he does.

Senate Judiciary Committee members from both parties signaled this month that they are willing to work together on larger comprehensive immigration legislation, with Chairman Lindsey Graham saying he’s willing to work on DACA.

The cases are Department of Homeland Security, et al., v. Regents of the University of California, et al., Docket No. 18-587; Donald J. Trump, et al., v. National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, et al., Docket No. 18-588; and Kirstjen M. Nielsen, et al., v. Martin Jonathan Batalla Vidal, et al., Docket No. 18-589.

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