WASHINGTON (CBSMiami/CNN) – It’s a victory for Dreamers and a setback for the Trump administration in the ongoing battle over the future of immigrants brought to this country illegally.
On Monday, the Supreme Court rejected a request from the Trump administration to consider the fate of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals before an appeals court took up the case.
“I think everybody in this room wants to help with DACA, but the Supreme Court just ruled it has to go through the normal channels, so it is going back in,” Trump told a meeting of governors.
The Supreme Court’s decision virtually ensures that the Trump administration won’t be able to end the program March 5th as planned. The move will also lessen pressure on Congress to act on a permanent solution for DACA and its roughly 700,000 participants — undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children.
Lawmakers had often cited the March 5th deadline as their own deadline for action. But the Senate failed to advance any bill during a debate earlier this month, and no bipartisan measure has emerged.
Senator Chuck Grassley is part of a bi-partisan group of lawmakers looking for a path to citizenship for the Dreamers.
The Trump administration has said it’s open to permanent protections but wants changes to immigration laws and tighter border security as part of the deal.
Trump has blamed Democrats for the stalemate.
Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer, D-Ny, has a different view.
“President Trump created this problem by terminating the DACA program last August. Since that decision, President Trump has stood in the way of every single proposal that could become law,” he said.
Originally, the Trump administration had terminated DACA but allowed a six-month grace period for anyone with status expiring in that window to renew. After that date, March 5th, any DACA recipient whose status expired would no longer be able to receive protection.
Monday’s action by the court, submitted without comment from the justices, is not a ruling on the merits of the DACA program or the Trump administration’s effort to end it.
At issue is a ruling by federal District Judge William Alsup of the US District Court for the Northern District of California, who blocked the plan to end DACA and held that the Trump administration must resume accepting renewal applications. The action means the case will continue going through the lower courts.
Alsup said a nationwide injunction was “appropriate” because “our country has a strong interest in the uniform application of immigration law and policy.”
“Plaintiffs have established injury that reaches beyond the geographical bounds of the Northern District of California. The problem affects every state and territory of the United States,” he wrote.
The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals has generally allowed nationwide injunctions against the Trump administration actions from lower court judges under this President to stand, meaning the DACA program could be spared a year or more until the Supreme Court could take up the case in next year’s term, given the likely realities of the calendar.
The White House said it was disappointed in the ruling.
“The DACA program — which provides work permits and myriad government benefits to illegal immigrants en masse — is clearly unlawful,” said spokesman Raj Shah. “The district judge’s decision to unilaterally re-impose 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.”
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, one of the 17 challenging Trump’s move to end DACA, called the ruling a “win,” but added “it also does not change the fact that we need a permanent solution to preserve DACA and protect Dreamers.”
Justice Department spokesman Devin O’Malley said the administration’s appeal to the Supreme Court was an uphill climb, given it came before the 9th Circuit ruled.
“While we were hopeful for a different outcome, the Supreme Court very rarely grants certiorari before judgment, though in our view, it was warranted for the extraordinary injunction requiring the Department of Homeland Security to maintain DACA,” O’Malley said. “We will continue to defend DHS’s lawful authority to wind down DACA in an orderly manner.”
University of Texas professor law and CNN legal analyst Stephen Vladeck said justices normally don’t weigh in at this stage.
“The justices have not granted such a request since 2004, but the government claimed that the urgency of settling the legal status of DACA, and the potential for nationwide confusion, justified such an extraordinary measure,” Vladeck said.
(©2018 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved. By Ariane de Vogue and Tal Kopan)