The Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether plans by the Trump administration to end the so-called DACA program for young undocumented immigrants can proceed.
The justices announced Friday they will hear oral arguments on the appeal in its next term, which begins in October. A ruling is expected in the presidential election year, putting the high court at the center of one of the most politically charged issues.
Federal appeals courts around the country have rejected efforts by the federal government to move ahead with phasing out the Obama-era program, known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA.
DACA was created under executive order, and gives some illegal immigrants -- known as "Dreamers" -- who were brought to the United States as children the opportunity to receive a renewable two-year reprieve from deportation and become eligible for a work permit.
The Trump administration in 2017 announced its plan to phase out the program, but federal courts have ruled that the phase-out could not apply retroactively and that the program should be restarted.
The White House fought back on those decisions, saying the president has broad authority over immigration enforcement policy.
DACA proponents have also argued that Trump’s planned termination of the program violates federal law requiring adequate notice-and-comment periods before certain federal rules are changed, as well as other constitutional equal protection and due process guarantees.
The Supreme Court took the unusual step of taking up the cases before they had been fully heard at the lower court level.
The cases are DHS v. Regents of the University of California (18-587); Trump v. National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (18-588); and McAlleenan v. Vidal (18-589).