The Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear the Trump administration’s challenge to a lower court ruling temporarily blocking it from winding down the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
The decision delivers a blow to the Trump administration, which argues that DACA is unconstitutional. It also could ease some pressure on Congress to quickly come up with a legislative solution, however, since it means the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals will continue to review the case.
The decision comes just a week before a March 5 deadline set by President Trump for Congress to enact legislation to replace the program established by former President Obama. It allows immigrants who entered the country illegally as children to work and go to school in the United States.
The court denied the government’s request that it hear the case without prejudice.
“It is assumed that the court of appeals will proceed expeditiously to decide this case,” the court said.
The Supreme Court could still agree to hear the case after it is heard by the lower appeals court.
The justices provided no further explanation for their decision. It takes four justices to agree to hear a case.
Congress has been unable to reach an agreement on a measure to replace Obama’s executive action and has just one full legislative day scheduled before the March 5 deadline.
In exchange for language allowing DACA recipients and other “Dreamers” to remain in the United States and get a path to citizenship, Trump has demanded money for his proposed wall on the Mexican border and changes to two legal immigration programs.
The House remains at an impasse, with leadership officially only considering a bill proposed by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) that is widely believed to be unable to pass in the Senate.
The Senate is looking for short-term solutions that would extend DACA for two or three years while a new immigration deal is worked out.
Had the California court — and later a New York court — not enjoined Trump’s order, DACA beneficiaries would have begun to lose their benefits en masse after the deadline.
Nearly 20,000 DACA recipients lost their benefits following the September announcement as they failed to apply for renewal in the month granted to them by the Trump administration.
Under the injunction, beneficiaries who were covered by DACA in September — including those who didn’t renew — are allowed to apply for a two-year renewal of their permit.
The Justice Department’s request to challenge the lower court ruling was rare in that it asked the Supreme Court to jump ahead of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in reviewing the case.
The court typically will only bypass an appellate court when there’s an emergency involving foreign affairs, a serious separation of powers concerns or when it has already agreed to hear another case dealing with the same question.