The Supreme Court Won’t Hear The DACA Case This Term Letting The Program Continue

credit: Victoria Pickering / Flickr

The fate of more than 700,000 undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children appears to be safe for now due to the Supreme Court’s inaction this week. The Obama-era program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) will keep going for at least ten more months as the court won’t take up the issue during its current term. Jan. 18 was the last day for adding cases to the court’s current term docket, anything added after that won’t be heard until the next term, which begins in the fall.

This is huge news for thousands in the program who were facing uncertainty in regards to their legal status.

The Supreme Court’s official ruling can come as late as June 2020, so until then DACA’s protections will remain in effect. The news comes as a relief for more than 700,000 unauthorized immigrants who had worried that they could lose protections and work permits. The Trump administration said in 2017 that it would phase out the program, but that decision was ultimately held up in the lower courts.

New applicants will still not be able to apply for DACA and there is no timetable of when that will change. DACA supporters are still looking for a comprehensive bill that will guarantee permanent protections for illegal immigrants.

DACA has been at the center of negotiations between Democrats and Republicans because of border wall funding.

The upcoming Supreme Court ruling on DACA was supposed to give President Trump an upper hand in regards to his border wall negotiations with Democrats over immigration. The negotiations have now turned into a fight that has caused a month-long partial government shutdown. With the Supreme Court ruling delayed, this will certainly buy Democrats some time.

Over the weekend, President Trump proposed exchanging renewed DACA protections for three years as part of a deal for border wall funding. The court’s decision to not rule soon may have weakened his leverage by protecting the program until at least this fall.

Since DACA is a two-year program, renewals before a court decision means that protections could continue as late as 2021.

With the court’s decision to hold up on taking DACA this term, there will be increased pressure for recipients to renew their applications as soon as possible. This will also allow extra time for fundraising DACA grants as recipients have to pay $495 for the reneal application fee. Just last year, United We Dream, an immigration advocacy organization, gave almost $1.5 million to 3,000 DACA recipients to pay their application fees.


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