The Supreme Court Just Rejected the Trump Administration’s Request to Quickly Kill DACA

Dreamers should be able to file DACA renewals for at least a few more months.

Jeff Malet/ZUMA

The Supreme Court has denied the Trump administration’s request for it to quickly review a lower-court decision that temporarily blocks ending protections from deportation for Dreamers—young undocumented immigrants who came to the country as children. The decision means that Dreamers will likely be able to renew their two-year work permits under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) for months, and possibly through the November midterm elections.

Last September, the Trump administration moved to end protections for roughly 700,000 Dreamers. In January, California district court judge William Alsup blocked the Trump administration’s decision. As Mother Jones has reported, Alsup’s temporary injunction requires the Department of Homeland Security to accept DACA renewal applications from Dreamers whose work permits are expiring. It does not require DHS to accept new applicants.

Monday’s news comes after the Justice Department made an unusual request for the Supreme Court to hear the case before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals weighed in. The Supreme Court has rejected that request, stating that it expects the appeals court “will proceed expeditiously to decide this case.”

The schedule set by the appeals court means that briefs should be submitted by early May. After that, the court will hear arguments and issue a decision. It is not known when the appeals court will issue its decision, or whether it will keep Alsup’s temporary injunction in place when it does. 

If the appeals court does rule to keep the injunction in place, the Supreme Court would likely hear a final appeal in its next term, which begins in October.

Over the long run, the Trump administration will likely be able to end DACA. Alsup’s decision holds that the Trump administration’s rationale for ending the program was likely “based on a flawed legal premise,” but does not say it can never end DACA. New York judge Nicholas Garaufis stated that the administration “indisputably can end the DACA program” when he issued a second nationwide DACA injunction earlier this month.

In the meantime, US Citizenship and Immigration Services, a division of DHS, is required to continue accepting DACA renewals. On Monday, a USCIS spokeswoman told Mother Jones that there is not yet data available for how many DACA recipients have applied for renewals or been approved. Two immigration lawyers told Mother Jones earlier this month that USCIS has been processing renewals surprisingly quickly, but their clients had not yet received a final approval. Vox reported on Monday that some renewals have been approved.  

The Trump administration’s September DACA memo blocked people from renewing work permits that expired after March 5. That has led March 5 to be seen as a deadline for Congress to act to protect Dreamers, even though some Dreamers have already lost work permits and many more will keep protections well beyond that date. 

Before the injunction, more than 400 DACA recipients per day were set to lose work permits between March 5 and March 31, according to Vox. That would have increased to more than 1,000 per day in August. It is not clear how many DACA recipients could lose their work permits now that renewals are being approved.