President Donald Trump proposed an immigration deal to reopen the government Saturday, which included a three-year extension of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Trump’s overture to congressional Democrats comes as the Supreme Court considers whether it will intervene in ongoing litigation over the president’s attempts to rescind DACA, an Obama-era amnesty initiative that extends temporary legal status to 700,000 foreign nationals who came to the U.S. as children.
The administration initiated DACA’s termination in September 2017. Those maneuvers were immediately challenged in federal court. A federal district judge in California ordered the government to continue administering DACA in January 2018.
At that juncture, the government broke from normal judicial process and appealed directly to the Supreme Court, instead of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The justices rejected that appeal, returning the case to the 9th Circuit with orders to resolve the case quickly.
Over eight months passed without a ruling from the 9th Circuit, so the Trump administration returned to the Supreme Court in November 2018 and asked the justices to take their case. The government’s petition has been pending before the Court since that time. The 9th Circuit issued a decision upholding the district court’s order three days later.
Challenges to the president’s attempts to rescind DACA are also pending before appeals courts in New York and Washington, D.C.
In the short term, Trump might command a stronger negotiating position if the justices intervene in the DACA cases, since the government can reasonably expect to prevail in the high court. Therefore, Democrats might wish to strike a deal with Trump that includes DACA protections, lest the Supreme Court affirm the president’s power to end the program unilaterally.
That the justices have not yet acted on the petition does not bode well for the administration, however. The high court hears arguments from October until April and disposes of its cases by June. As a general matter, the docket for each term is finalized in the middle of January.
If the Court intended to grant the administration’s request and hear the case, it likely would have done so by now. As such, the prospect of Supreme Court action on DACA looks dim as of this writing.
The high court will next announce action in pending cases on Tuesday.