DACA: For Dreamers, a brief reprieve from the March 5 deadline

Machinations over DACA in the federal courts will at least postpone the program’s scheduled March 5 demise.

On Jan. 16, the U.S. Department of Justice asked the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene immediately in a legal dispute over whether the Trump administration can end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA–and to rule on the dispute before the Court’s summer recess at the end of June.

The dispute arises from a federal district court decision on Jan. 9 that barred the government from ending DACA. In compliance with the district court order, the government has announced that it has resumed receiving renewal applications for three broad categories of young immigrants who had already received DACA.

At the same time, DOJ is appealing the district court decision not only to the Supreme Court but also to the Court of Appeals. Simultaneous appeals are highly unusual.

DOJ, however, did not ask the Supreme Court to put the district court ruling on hold. A hold, if it had been requested and granted, would have allowed the government to end DACA beginning March 5, 2018, consistent with its original plans, while the appeals worked its way through the courts.

If the Supreme Court agrees to DOJ’s request to intervene in the appeal, the question about ending DACA could be resolved in June. If the Supreme Court does not agree and if the Court of Appeals decides to leave the district court order in place, then the question about ending DACA could remain open for more than a year, according to DOJ.

Under Supreme Court rules, a case must be of “imperative public importance” to justify skipping over the court of appeals. Only a handful of cases over the past seventy-five years have met this standard.

By Mike Brown, mbrown.c4ad@gmail.com