Originally published by The Washington Post
The Justice Department on Tuesday said it would take the “rare step” of asking the Supreme Court to overturn a judge’s ruling and clear the way for the Trump administration to dismantle a program that provides work permits to undocumented immigrants who have lived in the United States since childhood.
The Trump administration said it has appealed the judge’s injunction — which said the Obama-era program must continue while a legal challenge to ending it is pending — to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
But the Justice Department will also petition the Supreme Court later this week to intervene in the case, an unusual action that would allow the government to bypass the 9th Circuit altogether in its bid to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in March.
“It defies both law and common sense” that a “single district court in San Francisco” had halted the administration’s plans, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement. “We are now taking the rare step of requesting direct review on the merits of this injunction by the Supreme Court so that this issue may be resolved quickly and fairly for all the parties involved.”
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who filed one of the federal lawsuits that led to the temporary injunction, said he was confident the courts will uphold the order.
“The unlawful action by the Trump Administration to terminate DACA impacts the lives and livelihood of hundreds of thousands [of] Dreamers, their colleagues, our universities, our businesses and our economy,” Becerra said in a statement.
The fate of DACA recipients, also known as “dreamers,” is at the heart of a legislative dispute on Capitol Hill that could result in a government shutdown later this week. President Trump says President Barack Obama exceeded his authority by creating the DACA program, and Congress must pass legislation protecting dreamers if they are to be allowed to stay.
The White House and lawmakers in Congress are at odds over whether protections for dreamers should be accompanied by crackdowns on other types of immigration.
The Trump administration announced in September that it would end DACA starting in March. California and other states filed a lawsuit challenging that decision.
Last week, U.S. District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco issued a temporary injunction halting the dismantling of the program while the lawsuit is pending. He ordered the government to resume renewing DACA and work authorizations for the 690,000 immigrants who held that status when the Trump administration ended the program on Sept. 5.
However, the judge said federal officials could deny those individuals the right to return to the United States if they travel abroad. Alsup also said the government did not have to accept new applicants.
Alsup’s ruling said California and other plaintiffs had shown they were likely to succeed on their claims that the Trump administration’s revocation of the nearly six-year-old program was “capricious” and not in compliance with federal laws. He said states, immigrants and public universities faced significant losses if a court found that the administration had acted improperly in terminating the program.
Government lawyers have argued that Trump had the authority to rescind his predecessor’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in September, and that the courts did not have the power to review it under federal law.