Supreme Court to Decide on DACA During the Election Year

Justices will hear case that halted Trump effort to overturn Obama’s executive order…

House Plan for Vote on ‘Dreamers’ Will be Set this Week

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(David G. Savage, Los Angeles Times) WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court agreed Friday to decide whether President Donald Trump may end Obama-era protections for the young immigrants known as Dreamers.

Under the court’s schedule, a decision would not be handed down until late spring of next year, just as the presidential campaign moves into high gear.

The long legal dispute has been a source of anxiety for the nearly 700,000 young adults now in the U.S. who were brought here illegally as children.

They have been living and working here legally under the Obama administration program.

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But if Trump’s termination of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, is allowed to proceed, they could be subject to deportation to foreign countries they have never known.

The dispute has been a source of frustration for Trump administration lawyers, who have tried for a year and a half to get the issue before the high court.

It’s possible, though unlikely, that the court’s intervention will prompt Congress and the White House to resolve the Dreamers’ status through new legislation.

The decision comes a day after the Supreme Court delivered a setback to Trump by ruling that the administration’s decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census lacked proper reasoning. Critics of Trump’s move to end DACA have raised similar objections.

In 2012, President Barack Obama and then-Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced they were temporarily suspending deportation for young immigrants who had come to this country when they were under age 16 and had clean records ever since. Those who qualified for the relief could obtain work permits.

When Trump took office in 2017, he said he would show “great heart” to the Dreamers. But in September of that year, he went along with repealing the special protection after then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions decreed that Obama’s order “unconstitutional.”

Lawsuits were filed in California to block the repeal, including one from the University of California and Napolitano, now its president. In January 2018, U.S. District Judge William Alsup said Trump’s repeal was based on a “flawed legal premise” because Obama as a president had the legal authority to suspend deportations. He then issued a nationwide order blocking the repeal from taking effect. Judges in New York and Washington, D.C. later handed down similar orders.

Solicitor Gen. Noel Francisco, representing the Trump administration, asked the high court to take up the case immediately, but the justices refused. In November, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Alsup’s order in a 3-0 decision.

Francisco then again asked the justices to move quickly to grant review during the winter, to hear arguments in this spring and to decide the issue before the court’s summer recess. The justices took no action until now.

Department of Homeland Security vs. Regents of the University of California will likely be scheduled for arguments in the late fall.

Trump and his lawyers have insisted that he has the legal authority to rescind Obama’s DACA policy and that no judge can stand in the way.

The judges who disagreed said the repeal of a broad immigration order is subject to review in court. They also said the Trump administration officials violated federal procedural law by abruptly changing a regulatory policy without offering a legitimate explanation.

Three years ago, the Supreme Court was evenly divided on a second and larger Obama order that would have shielded about 4 million parents who were in the country illegally but had children who were permitted to be in the United States. Until Sessions became attorney general, however, no one had challenged the earlier DACA policy as unconstitutional.

In defense of Trump, Francisco argued that judges in California were wrongly interfering with the president’s authority to establish immigration policy.

He urged the high court to throw out the judges’ orders that “command the government to preserve a policy that affirmatively sanctions the ongoing violation of federal law by 700,000 aliens who have no lawful immigration status and no right to the policy’s continuation.”

©2019 Los Angeles Times. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.