The U.S. Supreme Court announced on Friday, June 28 that it would be reviewing an appeal in the next term on whether the Trump administration’s ongoing plan to end protections under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is lawful.
With legal arguments set to take place near the end of 2019, the highest court’s decision may likely be made by mid-2020 — peak campaigning time for presidential candidates including President Donald Trump who is eyeing re-election.
Since Trump’s election in 2016, DACA has found itself at the center of political negotiations revolving around immigration and funding for a wall along the southern U.S.-Mexico border.
Trump announced in 2017 that his administration would be winding down DACA, claiming its adoption to have been unlawful and that courts did not have the power to review its decision.
Then acting Attorney General Jeff Sessions cited to a 2015 federal appeals court ruling in New Orleans that blocked a related Obama-era program called DAPA, or Deferred Action for Parents of Americans.
The Trump administration also said it acted to end DACA as a result of lawsuit threats coming from states including Texas.
Protests and lawsuits from immigrant advocates and civil rights groups quickly ensued, with several lower courts arguing that the Trump administration had no clear reason for ending the program, or any clear argument that DACA was illegal.
In California, a federal judge issued the first of three nationwide injunctions in 2018 that required the Trump administration to continue accepting renewal applications from DACA recipients whose statuses were about to expire.
According to federal data, renewals were made for more than 373,000 DACA recipients.
Federal courts in New York, Virginia, and Washington D.C., similarly made moves to block the administration from immediately ending the program.
The 2012 Obama-era program has protected nearly 700,000 people brought into this country as young children — commonly referred to as “DREAMers” — through providing them with work permits and protection from deportation.
According to data from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, nearly 5,000 applications approved since 2012 were from undocumented Filipinos.
One of the cases up for Supreme Court review was brought forth by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, together with attorneys general from Maine, Maryland, and Minnesota.
“So far, both lower courts in our legal fight to protect DACA have agreed with us that the Trump Administration’s attempt to end it was unlawful,” Becerra said in a statement on Friday.
He added, “In California and across our nation, [DREAMers] enrich our communities as scholars, entrepreneurs, first responders, and much more.”
The Supreme Court’s announcement comes after it just earlier this month, refused to expedite hearings of the cases coming from four federal appeals courts.
The Justice Department on Friday praised the decision.
“We are pleased the Supreme Court agreed that this issue needs resolution. We look forward to presenting our case before the Court,” said Alexei Woltornist, spokesperson for the Justice Department.
In the meantime, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, an affiliation of five civil rights organizations, encourages DACA beneficiaries to continue renewing their applications.
The federal government is currently under court order to accept and process renewal applications, but it is not accepting new applications.