Supreme Court Ruling on Dreamers Changes Trump’s Timetable

SCOTUS decides to punt on DACA, so White House has to wait through normal appeals process before issue can be resolved

by Jim Stinson | Updated 26 Feb 2018 at 7:41 PM

President Donald Trump and Congress got a temporary reprieve Monday when the Supreme Court declined to expedite the chief executive’s appeal of a lower federal court order to continue the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

“It is assumed the court of appeals will act expeditiously to decide this case,” the high court said, leaving in place U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup’s Jan. 9, 2018, ruling that Attorney General Jeff Sessions mistakenly decided DACA was improperly created through an executive order by former President Barack Obama in 2012.

Department of Justice officials had asked the justices to bypass the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which will now hear the Trump administration’s request that Alsup’s decision be overruled.

Trump withdrew the Obama order last September and gave Congress a March 5, 2018, deadline for either confirming the program’s end or giving it new authorization. The program gave temporary amnesty to an estimated 700,000 dreamers, people who were brought here illegally by their parents when they were children. The word derives from the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act.

The dreamers are now adults — and the first expirations of DACA amnesty grants would have begun in March. But with that deadline now lifted, Trump and congressional leaders will likely be able to reorder their priorities this year, with DACA resolution moving to the back burner.

The DACA debate has been the centerpiece of immigration and border security negotiations since Trump took office. At times, the president and Democrats seemed close to a deal, tying permanent amnesty for DACA recipients to building the wall along the southern border.

But in stepped two federal judges: Alsup in San Francisco and U.S. District Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis in Brooklyn, ruling in early February. The Garaufis decision was notable because he conceded Trump had the authority to revoke a previous executive order.

Now the earliest the Supreme Court can return to the DACA issue is early 2019, according to NBC News. The 9th Circuit is likely the most liberal in the nation and will almost certainly uphold Alsup. Then it’s off to the Supreme Court for a real showdown.

Critics of illegal immigration said the Supreme Court's decision to stay out of the issue for now will give the House of Representatives time to work on an alternative to both DACA and several Senate bills that went down in flames earlier this month.

"The fact that this occurs at a time when elected representatives in Congress are actively debating this policy only underscores that the district judge has unwisely intervened in the legislative process."

"It creates further delays, which is probably the strategy of the people who brought the suit," said Ira Mehlman, media director for the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). "It does give the House impetus to act. The House has some good bills, most notably the Goodlatte bill."

The Goodlatte bill, also known as Securing America's Future Act, would bolster enforcement of existing immigration law, make reforms to legal immigration programs, secure the border, and provide a legislative solution for the current beneficiaries of the DACA program, according to the website of Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.).

Trump took the opportunity to bash the 9th Circuit at a meeting Monday with the nation's governors but did not criticize the Supreme Court's refusal to get involved early. A White House spokesman noted the two federal judges intervened just as Trump and Congress were negotiating a deal on DACA and immigration.

"The DACA program, which provides work permits and myriad government benefits to illegal immigrants en masse, is clearly unlawful," said Raj Shah, White House principal deputy press secretary.

"The district judge's decision to unilaterally reimpose a program that Congress had explicitly and repeatedly rejected is a usurpation of legislative authority."

"The district judge's decision to unilaterally reimpose a program that Congress had explicitly and repeatedly rejected is a usurpation of legislative authority. The fact that this occurs at a time when elected representatives in Congress are actively debating this policy only underscores that the district judge has unwisely intervened in the legislative process."

PoliZette White House writer Jim Stinson can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter.

(photo credit, homepage and article images: Los Angeles March for Immigrant Rights [1], [2], CC BY 2.0, by Molly Adams)

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