Supreme Court to decide future of DACA protections for undocumented immigrants

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court said Friday it will review next term President Donald Trump’s decision to terminate an Obama-era program that protects hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children, setting up a potential decision in the heart of the 2020 presidential election.

A decision siding with the administration could strip protections for some 700,000 so-called Dreamers.

The justices have been considering whether to take up the case for months, while allowing renewals for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to continue, even as the Trump administration cracked down on issues related to immigration. Renewals for the program will continue as the court considers the case.

The announcement was made with no noted dissent.

The program, which protects participants from deportation and allows them to work in the US, has become a focal point in the debate over Trump’s proposed US-Mexico border wall and efforts to crack down on immigration.

Trump has repeatedly cited the fact that lower courts blocked his effort to phase out DACA and the potential for a Supreme Court review as a reason not to make a deal with Democrats to extend the program on a comprehensive immigration bill.

Many DACA recipients are unable to obtain legal status on their own because they were either brought into the country illegally or they overstayed their visas. That often precludes them from becoming a lawful permanent resident because one of the requirements is having entered — and resided in — the country legally.

While legislation has been introduced to enshrine the protections into law, it faces an uphill battle, giving additional weight to the Supreme Court’s impending decision.

The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives passed a bill earlier this year that would provide a pathway to citizenship for more than 1 million undocumented immigrants, including DACA recipients, but it is highly unlikely to become law anytime soon, particularly ahead of a presidential election. Even if it were to pass the Republican-controlled Senate, it faces a certain veto from Trump.

 

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