The Supreme Court will hear arguments over the termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, the court said Friday.
The announcement sets up a legal showdown later this year over President Donald Trump’s decision to remove protections that allow 669,000 Dreamers — who were illegally brought to the U.S. or overstayed a visa as children — to live and work in the United States legally. The high court could assign the case for argument as soon as October.
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The news comes as Trump and congressional Democrats continue to feud over his aggressive immigration crackdown and a growing influx of migrant families and children at the Southwest border.
DACA, which was established in 2012 as an executive-branch program by former President Barack Obama, provides deportation relief and work permits to Dreamers brought to the United States as children.
Trump, arguing that DACA would not withstand legal challenges, moved to phase out the initiative in September 2017. But three federal judges blocked the planned termination. Two federal appeals courts have subsequently issued rulings against Trump’s wind-down.
As a result of the lower court rulings, the Trump administration resumed processing renewals for people already enrolled in the program, and it may eventually be required to accept new applications.
The Democrat-controlled House passed a bill earlier this month that would provide conditional legal status to an estimated 2.3 million Dreamers. Once legalized, Dreamers could eventually apply for permanent residence and citizenship if they meet certain criteria.
The bill also provides legal status to more than 400,000 immigrants covered by Temporary Protected Status, a separate humanitarian program for people whose home countries experience a natural disaster or armed conflict.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), however, has said it’s unlikely the Republican-controlled Senate will vote on the legislation, which was crafted by Democrats.
The administration has had a mixed record on high-profile immigration cases before the Supreme Court.
The justices on Thursday dealt Trump an unexpected blow when they ruled that the rationale for a citizenship question on the 2020 census was “contrived“ and sent the case back to lower courts. In that ruling, Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court’s liberal wing.
But the Supreme Court upheld another Trump policy a year ago when it ruled in favor of a revised version of his travel ban. The 5-4 ruling split along ideological lines, with the court’s conservative justices backing the president’s powers to restrict immigration in the interest of national security.