It’s only January, but the U.S. Supreme Court has already tabled any hearings on the legality of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program until at least this fall. Assuming the court sticks to its usual practices, that likely means no decision would become available until 2020.
Practically, the high court’s inaction means that DACA recipients are probably safe from any enforcement actions for the rest of this year, if not longer.
DACA was created by the Obama administration in 2012. It provided work authorization and protection from deportation to certain immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as minors. Many of the approximately 700,000 recipients have no memory of any home but the U.S.
The Trump administration, however, has deemed the program illegal, claiming that Obama lacked the authority to create it. President Trump announced an end to the program in 2017, but several federal courts have issued mandates keeping DACA in place while litigation continues.
Last November, for example, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled that the Trump administration’s attempt to end DACA was “arbitrary and capricious,” which basically means it was done without the minimum legal rationale required in order to make policy changes.
The Ninth Circuit specifically rejected the argument that the Obama administration lacked the authority to create the program. In doing so, it noted that the U.S. has a long history of programs which, like DACA, rely on prosecutorial discretion, declining to enforce immigration law against specific groups.
The Trump administration has tried to appeal lower-court injunctions keeping the DACA program in place. Last year, it urged the Supreme Court to hear an appeal even though the case had not been heard by the intermediate appellate courts. The high court rejected that appeal as premature.
Now, the Trump Administration has filed an appeal of the Ninth Circuit decision, but the Supreme Court has so far declined to hear the case in any expedited way. That could signal that the high court doesn’t perceive the appeal to be especially urgent, considering the many complex and challenging issues that come before it each year.
DACA recipients have little to do but wait
If you are a beneficiary of DACA, it must be extremely frustrating that your immigration status remains somewhat in flux. You should be safe relying on DACA, however, at least until the U.S. Supreme Court hears the case and issues its final opinion. Based on standard Supreme Court practice, that is likely to happen sometime next year.
If you have questions about an immigration matter, contact Yew Immigration Law Group. We have years of experience helping individuals and families immigrate to the United States.