While Senate Leadership Prepares for a Vote to End Shutdown, Supreme Court Declines to Review Trump’s DACA Challenge

On January 22, 2019, the Supreme Court declined to act on the Trump administration’s request to review the lawsuit challenging the administration’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. This decision effectively keeps the DACA program in place, and the program’s 700,000+ recipients, who are currently living and working in the United States, will remain protected from deportation. The Supreme Court may still grant review in the coming months, considering the issue in the new term that begins in October.

The DACA program was implemented by the Obama administration in June 2012 to provide temporary protection from deportation and two-year work permits to certain young adults who were brought to the United States as young children.

In September 2017, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions officially advised the Department of Homeland Security that the program is unconstitutional. In the months following, several lower courts rejected the prospect of rescission, arguing that the Trump administration provided no legitimate rationale for terminating DACA.

The Supreme Court’s inaction ensures that, at least for the time being, DACA will remain in place. It also significantly reduces Trump’s leverage in convincing Democrats to approve a spending bill that would include money for his proposed border wall. On Saturday, January 19, Trump announced that if his spending bill were approved, he would offer a three-year DACA extension. However, given the Supreme Court’s declination to review DACA, the program will stay in place.

The Supreme Court’s decision increases party tensions as Senate leadership prepares to vote on two proposals to reopen the federal government on Thursday afternoon.

Led by Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican legislation will provide $5.7 billion in wall funding, a three-year provisional protection for DACA recipients, $12.7 billion in disaster aid, and an extension of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The legislation will also implement changes to asylum law, making it more difficult for individuals facing persecution to seek refuge in the United States.

The Democratic legislation, led by Senator Chuck Schumer, proposes to partially re-open the government through February 8, allowing federal employees to receive paychecks while legislators continue to debate the budget and border security.

Both proposals will need 60 votes in order to pass, requiring the Democrats to win over at least thirteen Republicans, and the Republicans to win over at least seven Democrats. Otherwise, the government will remain shut down until a compromise is reached.

For more information on court cases concerning DACA, please visit SupremeCourt.gov.