The U.S. Supreme Court refused Monday to bypass the federal circuit courts in the legal dispute over the Trump administration’s cancellation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, meaning that young immigrants known as Dreamers will be able to continue renewing their legal protections from deportation, at least for the time being.
The court rejected the administration’s highly unusual bid to get the justices to intervene before the cases are fully considered in the lower courts, after federal judges in California and Brooklyn allowed the so-called DACA program to go forward for immigrants who had been granted a shield from immigration enforcement.
The petition to intervene was “denied without prejudice,” the court said in a short statement. “It is assumed that the Court of Appeals will proceed expeditiously to decide this case.”
In September, President Donald Trump authorized a “wind down” this year of DACA, a mechanism put in place via executive action by former President Barack Obama to give young immigrants a chance to stay while wider immigration reforms were on hold. While Trump has made sympathetic statements about those immigrants, brought to the country illegally as children, his administration has argued against DACA as an excess of executive authority on a matter that should be resolved by Congress.
The Supreme Court’s decision spells relief — at least for the short term — for thousands of young immigrants and their families on Long Island, part of a larger group of nearly 800,000 DACA recipients across the country.
The White House responded Monday by criticizing the January decision by U.S. District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco to allow renewals to go forward. White House spokesman Raj Shah said DACA “is clearly unlawful.” He said the federal judge “unilaterally” reimposed a program “that Congress had explicitly and repeatedly rejected.”
U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis in Brooklyn also concluded earlier this month that DACA renewals should continue while the case is heard.
One expert said Monday that, absent any unexpected policy changes or extraordinary court actions, it would take at least several months until the orders issued in Brooklyn and California are revisited by federal appeals courts.
“Certainly, until after a Court of Appeals rules, it seems very unlikely that they [the administration] will try to get another kind of extraordinary relief,” said Andrew Pincus, a partner with the Mayer Brown law firm in Washington.
Dreamers had been worried about losing the chance to renew their DACA protections as the Monday deadline imposed by the Trump administration neared.
Eliana Fernández, a Patchogue resident among plaintiffs in the Brooklyn case, said she was “thrilled with the Supreme Court’s decision” even if it’s not yet a ruling on the policy’s merits.
“Trump’s decision” to end DACA “was an attack on me, my family and my community,” said Fernández, an advocate with nonprofit Make the Road New York.
“I have lived in the United States since a month before my 15th birthday,” she said. “Since then, I have gone to school, finishing high school and college. I have a family now — with two beautiful children who were born in this country. I own a house and pay my mortgage.”
Barrett Psareas, who advocates for stricter enforcement of immigration laws, says that while he would like a final resolution on the DACA program, he’s willing to wait until the matter makes its way back to the high court.
“I like the idea that it’s ultimately going to the Supreme Court, because it will put to bed all the talk going around about the Obama executive order being illegal or not, and maybe Congress will be forced to do something” to settle the matter, said Psareas, vice president of the Nassau County Civic Association in Cedarhurst.
Immigrant advocates across the country say they will continue pushing for a legislative solution that would give them a permanent path to citizenship, several of their representatives said at a Monday media briefing.