The Trump administration asked [cert. petition, PDF] the Supreme Court on Thursday to bypass a federal appeals court and decide whether the Acting Secretary’s decision to “winddown” the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) [USCIS materials] policy is lawful.
In September six immigrants filed [JURIST report] a lawsuit in the US District Court for the Northern District of California [official website], challenging the administration’s decision to end DACA by arguing that the Trump administration did not follow proper administrative procedure. In January the district court temporarily blocked [JURIST report] the administration from ending DACA, stating that although new applications for “Dreamer” status did not have to be processed, the program must continue to renew applications from those previously covered until lawsuits regarding those affected are resolved, finding that the plaintiffs’ arguments have merit.
Instead of waiting for the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] to review the district court’s order, the Justice Department has asked the Supreme Court to bypass normal protocol and review the case now. The Supreme Court has granted similar requests by past presidential administrations, but it is rarely done.
The Justice Department argues that:
The Acting Secretary’s decision to discontinue an existing policy of enforcement discretion falls well within the types of agency decisions that traditionally have been understood as “committed to agency discretion.” Like the decision to adopt a policy of selective nonenforcement, the decision whether to retain such a policy can “involve a complicated balancing” of factors that are “peculiarly within the expertise” of the agency, including determining how the agency’s resources are best spent and how the non-enforcement policy fits with the agency’s overall policies. Chaney, 470 U.S. at 831. Likewise, a decision to abandon an existing nonenforcement policy will not, in itself, bring to bear the agency’s coercive power over any individual. Indeed, an agency’s decision to reverse a prior policy of civil nonenforcement is akin to changes in policy as to criminal prosecutorial discretion, which regularly occur within the U.S. Department of Justice both within and between presidential administrations, and which have never been considered amenable to judicial review.
If the Supreme Court denies the Justice Department’s request, it will have to return to the Ninth circuit and ask the court to put the district court’s order on hold.
DACA allows [CNN backgrounder] children of persons who migrated illegally into the US to remain in US if they came before 2007 and were under 16 when they arrived. More than 800,000 people are enrolled.