WASHINGTON – The fate of the Dreamers – more than 700,000 undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children – appears safe this year due to the Supreme Court's inaction.
The justices Tuesday did not agree to give the Trump administration one last chance to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA, which protects those immigrants from deportation and grants them work permits.
President Donald Trump's effort has been on hold for a year following a federal district judge's nationwide injunction. In November, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit upheld that ruling, chastising the administration for targeting "blameless and economically productive young people with clean criminal records."
The Justice Department had asked the Supreme Court to intervene even before the most recent ruling. But with its inaction, the court likely let slip any chance the case can be heard during the current term, which ends in June. That pushes oral argument to October at the earliest and a decision into 2020, if the court agrees to hear the case at all.
Video: Trump Admin Wants Supreme Court Intervention in Big Cases
The high court in 2016 blocked a broader initiative by President Barack Obama aimed at protecting millions of undocumented parents. Last year, it upheld Trump's ban against travelers from seven countries, including five with Muslim majorities.
Solicitor General Noel Francisco had warned in his request that "absent this court’s intervention, the government will be required to maintain the (DACA) policy nationwide for years after (the Department of Homeland Security) and the attorney general determined that it should end."
A coalition of states and immigrant rights groups had urged the justices to deny the administration's request and let lower court rulings stand.
The nationwide injunction "preserves the status quo for a carefully defined group of young people who were brought to this country as children, are law-abiding and productive residents, and in many cases know no other home," California argued in court papers.
Trump originally proposed ending the program in 2017 but gave Congress six months to work out a compromise solution. That led to intense negotiations and a brief government shutdown but did not produce a law to help the Dreamers. On Saturday, Trump again suggested that the Dreamers' fate could be linked to his own dream: a concrete wall or steel barrier along parts of the southern border.
If the Supreme Court ultimately rules in Trump's favor, it might not lead to immediate deportations but would improve his bargaining position with congressional Democrats.
"A decision concerning DHS’s authority to rescind DACA would say nothing about Congress’s unquestioned power to alter the immigration status of DACA recipients," the Justice Department has said.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Supreme Court's inaction leaves DACA program for young migrants intact for now