The U.S. Supreme Court temporarily closed the door on President Donald Trump's effort to end protections for hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants with the justices again silent on Tuesday on three related appeals.
With the lower court’s ruling against the administration and the high court not yet taking action, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program remains in place for now, essentially maintaining the status quo for current DACA recipients. DACA protects about 700,000 immigrants, often called "Dreamers" based on the name of the Dream Act legislation that failed to pass Congress, from deportation and provides them work permits, though not a path to citizenship.
Unless the court breaks with its normal procedure, the nine justices would not be able to hear arguments and decide the case in its current term, which ends in June. If they eventually agree to hear the matter, it most likely would be decided during their 9-month term that begins in October, meaning a ruling could come in the 2020 presidential election year.
The Supreme Court’s inaction essentially undercut Trump’s effort to use DACA as leverage to end the partial government shutdown.
Trump on Saturday proposed a deal to end the ongoing partial government shutdown that would include a 3-year extension of DACA protections and Temporary Protected Status in return for congressional Democrats agreeing to allow $5.7 billion in funding to help pay for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Democrats, who oppose the wall, rejected the offer. Now, it appears that DACA protections will be extended into 2020 regardless of what the president does.
Top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer of New York on Saturday noted that it was Trump who moved to rescind DACA and that the president's offer of a temporary extension of some protections for the Dreamers in exchange for wall money was not a compromise but "more hostage-taking."
Sandy Ovalle, the Immigration Campaign Coordinator at Sojourners, pointed out that the U.S. Senate bill that Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) introduced that includes Trump’s offer “made significant changes to the DACA program,” that would make it increasingly hard for current and future DACA recipients to apply because of higher cost, high income requirements, and more restrictions. In other words, it was never a direct “tradeoff” in some deal.
According to the Washington Post: "The legislation would also double fees for young immigrants to apply for protection under DACA and create new income requirements to qualify, which would have the effect of preventing very poor immigrants from being able to apply, according to United We Dream, a group that supports Dreamers."
Ovalle describes the SCOTUS inaction right now as a win that “keeps DACA away from political games.”
Reuters reporting contributed to this story.