The Supreme Court on Monday rejected an appeal from the Trump administration to decide the legality of the president’s plans to end the Obama-era DACA program affecting young illegal immigrants next month.
In recent months, lower court judges have moved to stop the administration from ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which protects about 800,000 young immigrants brought to country illegally as children from deportation.
In an unsigned comment released Monday, the Supreme Court denied the unusual request to take up the issue, saying the appeal should move through the normal appellate process. The move kicks the case back to the 9th Circuit in San Francisco.
The Supreme Court said the federal appeals court will “proceed expeditiously to decide this case.”
Raj Shah, the White House principal deputy press secretary, said Monday the administration looks forward to “having this case expeditiously heard by the appeals court and, if necessary, the Supreme Court, where we fully expect to prevail.”
“The DACA program – which provides work permits and myriad government benefits to illegal immigrants en masse – is clearly unlawful,” Shah said. “The district judge’s decision to unilaterally re-impose a program that Congress had explicitly and repeatedly rejected is a usurpation of legislative authority. The fact that this occurs at a time when elected representatives in Congress are actively debating this policy only underscores that the district judge has unwisely intervened in the legislative process.”
Last month, U.S. District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco ruled that DACA must remain in place while litigation surrounding the program is ongoing. U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis in New York ruled earlier this month that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had "erred in concluding that DACA is unconstitutional."
What made the appeal from the Trump Justice Department unusual is that the administration sought to bypass the federal appeals court in San Francisco and go directly to the Supreme Court.
A Justice Department spokesman said Monday they will "continue to defend DHS’ lawful authority to wind down DACA in an orderly manner.”
“While we were hopeful for a different outcome, the Supreme Court very rarely grants certiorari before judgment, though in our view it was warranted for the extraordinary injunction requiring the Department of Homeland Security to maintain DACA," Department of Justice spokesman Devin O’Malley said.
President Trump has set March 5 as the end date for the DACA program, while calling on Congress to come up with a legislative fix.
Republicans like Trump have argued then-President Obama unconstitutionally granted protections to the so-called Dreamers when that should be up to Congress.
The Supreme Court rarely hears a case before a lower appeals court has considered it. The fight over whether President Richard Nixon had to turn over the Watergate tapes is one such example.
Fox News’ Bill Mears, Jake Gibson and Samuel Chamberlain and The Associated Press contributed to this report.