Trump Administration Appeals to High Court on DACA Program

(Bloomberg) -- The Trump administration asked the U.S. Supreme Court to let the president end a program that protects hundreds of thousands of young immigrants from deportation, taking the unusual step of seeking to bypass a federal appeals court.

The administration is challenging a federal trial judge’s Jan. 9 decision to temporarily block President Donald Trump from abolishing the program, started by his predecessor, Barack Obama. The appeal asks the court to put the case on a fast track and rule before the scheduled end of its term in late June.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA, blocks the deportation of undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children and lets them apply for work permits. The first group of those so-called dreamers had been set to lose their protected status in March before U.S. District Judge William H. Alsup’s order.

That order “requires the government to sanction indefinitely an ongoing violation of federal law being committed by nearly 700,000 aliens,” the government’s appeal argued. The administration resumed accepting renewal applications from DACA recipients after Alsup’s order.

The Supreme Court rarely grants requests to bypass the appeals court stage, particularly when it isn’t already considering a related issue in a separate case. The appeal pointed to some high-profile precedents, including fights over President Richard Nixon’s tape recordings and President Harry Truman’s effort to seize the nation’s steel mills.

Although the administration told the court that “time is of the essence,” it didn’t take the more conventional step of asking the justices to block Alsup’s order while the legal fight moves forward.

With Democrats broadly supportive of the DACA program, Supreme Court review could give the administration more leverage in negotiations over immigration policy.

The case is U.S. Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of the University of California.

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