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Supreme Court rejects Trump attempt to leapfrog 9th Circuit on 'Dreamers' cases

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected an attempt by Justice Department officials to leapfrog the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, and immediately involve the high court in the political and legal fight over the fate of nearly 788,000 young people covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. 

This leaves in place decisions by federal judges in California and New York, who each separately issued nationwide injunctions that blocked the Trump administration from ending DACA, an Obama-era program that gave work permits to immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, and protected them from deportation. 

On Jan. 16, Trump administration officials led by Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced they were taking the "rare step" of asking the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene, and skip over the 9th Circuit, saying they were seeking a "direct review." 

The appeal came just days after U.S. District Court Judge William F. Alsup ordered the administration to resume accepting renewal applications for the program under the same terms and conditions that were in effect before Trump administration officials announced last September that they would wind down the program.

Following Alsup's decision, on Feb. 13, U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis in Brooklyn also ruled against the decision to end DACA, writing that the administration could eventually end the program, but called the reasoning to end the program arbitrary.

Supporters of DACA praised the Supreme Court's decision, while administration officials didn't immediately provide a public response to the high court decision.

"The Supreme Court, by denying the Trump administration's attempt to leapfrog key parts of our judicial system, has rightly allowed our clients and others who brought legal challenges to the termination of DACA to have their day in court," said Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center. "This means that immigrant youth who previously had DACA can continue, for now, to apply for renewals. There is immense urgency for Congress to do the right thing on the Dream Act, and nothing about today's announcement diminished that." 

"The Trump administration tried to skirt the rule of law. They should look no further in the mirror if they’re concerned why they haven’t had success," said Xavier Becerra, the attorney general of California. "Two federal courts have already looked closely at the Trump administration’s decision to terminate DACA and correctly concluded that it was unlawful." 

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Arizona Democrats praised the decision, noting that about 53,000 people are covered by Arizona

"The Supreme Court validated what Arizonans already knew – President Trump’s destructive plan to revoke the DACA program is not only reckless, but out of step with Arizona values," said Felecia Rotellini, chairwoman of the Arizona Democratic Party. "More than 53,000 Dreamers call Arizona home, and their lives should not be used as political pawns. To Arizona’s Dreamers: the Democratic Party and the vast majority of Americans stand with you because your dreams define the American Dream." 

Following the decision in Jan., Homeland Security officials announced that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services was once again accepting renewal applications for DACA, writing that "until further notice, and unless otherwise provided in this guidance, the DACA policy will be operated on the terms in place before it was rescinded on Sept. 5, 2017."

Those who previously were granted deferred action can still request a renewal, however, USCIS is not accepting new request, nor will the agency accept "advanced parole" allowing DACA recipients to travel outside of the United States.

TucsonSentinel.com's original reporting and curation of border and immigration news is generously supported in part by a grant from the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation.

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Paul Ingram/TucsonSentinel.com

A young man fills out forms to apply for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a program that protects nearly 53,000 Arizonans from deportation and gives permission to work for two years.