All eyes are on the Supreme Court.
The nation’s highest judicial body agreed on Friday to decide whether the Trump administration can go forward with its plans to end the Obama-era DACA program.
The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments for the three relevant cases in its next term, which begins in October, meaning a ruling won’t be likely until 2020 — making for a highly charged presidential election year.
The justices will take the unusual step of taking up the cases before they’ve been fully heard at the lower court level.
The cases in question are DHS v. Regents of the University of California, Trump v. National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and McAlleenan v. Vidal.
Known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, DACA was created by executive order and protects roughly 700,000 illegal aliens from deportation by granting them renewable two-year reprieves and eligibility for work permits.
To qualify for DACA, beneficiaries (whom many politicians and media figures call “Dreamers”) must have been under age 16 when they came into the country and must have arrived by 2007. DACA, which President Obama signed in 2012 after the DREAM Act immigration bill failed to overcome a Senate filibuster in 2011, has been called “unconstitutional” by its critics.
The Trump White House announced in 2017 that the DACA program would be phased out, but federal court rulings have kept it alive, and the federal government has continued to accept renewal applications from DACA recipients. As a result, the Justice Department late last year asked the Supreme Court to fast track DACA cases and hear them during the current term — a request the court rejected.
But in a surprise turn, the justices appear to have acquiesced to the Trump administration, setting up a potentially tense legal battle on one of the most controversial issues in modern American politics.
On the 2016 campaign trail, then-candidate Trump vowed to end DACA as part of his 10-point immigration plan. “We will immediately terminate President Obama’s two illegal executive amnesties in which he defied federal law and the Constitution to give amnesty to approximately five million illegal immigrants,” he said in a campaign speech.
Following the election, President Trump softened on DACA, indicating he would be open to allowing beneficiaries of the program to stay. “They got brought here at a very young age, they've worked here, they've gone to school here,” the president said in November of 2017. “Some were good students. Some have wonderful jobs. And they're in never-never land because they don't know what's going to happen.”
In September of that year, the Trump administration rescinded DACA, with President Trump calling on Congress to work out a deal that would provide amnesty for young illegal aliens in exchange for border protection and wall funding.
A few months later, a federal judge ordered that the government keep DACA in place on the same terms as before the rescission.
Through back and forth, Democrats and Republicans have yet to reach a DACA deal.
Proponents of deporting DACA recipients argue that providing the 700,000 illegal aliens with a path to a green card and eventual U.S. citizenship could trigger chain migration of up to four million foreign nationals.
Whatever the ramifications of rescinding or keeping DACA, the ball is now in the Supreme Court.
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