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Justices Turn Down Trump’s Appeal in DACA Case

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People protest the Trump administration’s plans to cancel the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals march on Trump Tower in Manhattan, Aug. 30, 2017. The U.S. Supreme Court on Feb. 26, 2018, rejected an unusual request from the Trump administration to decide whether it was entitled to shut down a program that shields some 700,000 young, undocumented immigrants from deportation. - HIROKO MASUIKE/THE NEW YORK TIMES
  • Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times
  • People protest the Trump administration’s plans to cancel the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals march on Trump Tower in Manhattan, Aug. 30, 2017. The U.S. Supreme Court on Feb. 26, 2018, rejected an unusual request from the Trump administration to decide whether it was entitled to shut down a program that shields some 700,000 young, undocumented immigrants from deportation.

By ADAM LIPTAK and MICHAEL D. SHEAR
© 2018 New York Times News Service

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday declined to clear the way for the Trump administration to end the Obama-era program that protects about 700,000 young immigrants from deportation, meaning they could remain in legal limbo for months unless Congress acts to make their status permanent.

President Donald Trump ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program in September, calling it an unconstitutional use of executive power by his predecessor and reviving the threat of deportation for immigrants who had been brought to the United States illegally as children.

But two federal judges have ordered the administration to maintain major pieces of the program while legal challenges move forward, notably by requiring the administration to allow people enrolled in it to renew their protected status. The Supreme Court’s decision Monday not to hear the government’s appeal will keep the program alive for months.

That will temporarily shield the young immigrants who already had signed up for the DACA program from immediate deportation, and allow them to keep working legally in the United States. Their status lasts for two years and is renewable.

The court’s decision also could relieve the immediate political pressure on lawmakers to permanently address the status of those immigrants, or to deal with the additional 1 million young immigrants who had never signed up for the DACA program. They remain at risk of deportation if immigration agents find them.

Even as he ended the DACA program in September, Trump had called upon Congress to give the young immigrants legal status, and an eventual path to citizenship, before the program was scheduled to expire March 5.

But that proposal has bogged down in partisan gridlock as members of Congress argue about broader changes to the nation’s immigration system that the president and his conservative allies in Congress have demanded as part of any deal to address the future of the young immigrants.

The court’s decision not to hear the administration’s appeal was expected, as no appeals court has yet ruled on the issue. The court’s order was brief, gave no reasons and noted no dissents. It urged the appeals court to “proceed expeditiously.”