The Trump Administration wants the controversy over the “DACA” program for younger undocumented immigrants to be back at the Supreme Court in time for initial action before the Justices’ summer recess. If the Justices agreed by late June to hear the case, it would mean it would be ready for an early hearing this Fall.
“DACA” is the nearly six-year-old Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, begun by the Obama Administration. President Trump wants to end that program, which has resulted in postponed deportation as well as work and study opportunities for nearly 800,000 foreign nationals who have lived almost all of their lives in the U.S.
Administration lawyers spelled out their timing goal as they asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to speed up further an already-fast-tracked case so that an appeal to the Justices can be pursued in time for an order granting review before the end of the current term, probably in late June. A grant of review would enable the filing of legal briefs over the summer recess, with a hearing early in the term that opens on October 1. If the case is not granted until the next term has opened, the schedule of review would not unfold until early 2019.
As of now, the Ninth Circuit Court has not even set a hearing date on dueling appeals by the Administration and by the defenders of DACA. The current briefing schedule probably will not be completed until early May, giving little time for the case to be decided by the Circuit Court and then appealed to the Justices for initial action this term.
The President had planned for DACA to end as of last week, if Congress did not step in to keep the program going. That deadline passed without any action by Congress, but also because two federal trial judges have issued temporary orders requiring that DACA benefits continue during court review.
The Administration had tried to persuade the Supreme Court to grant review of the controversy without waiting for the Ninth Circuit Court to review the cross-appeals, but the Justices turned down that request on February 26. The order did say, though, that the Justices would assume “that the Court of Appeals will proceed expeditiously to decide this case.”
The Circuit Court had already expedited its review, acting on its own. It said then, though, that the timing issue could be raised anew after the Supreme Court had acted on the Administration’s request. Last week, the Administration responded by suggesting an even tighter schedule for briefing, and asked for a ruling by the Circuit Court in time to get the case to the Justices with time to consider granting review before recessing for the summer. The University of California Regents, among those challenging the decision to end DACA, argued in response that there was no need for an even shorter schedule for review by the Circuit Court.
The Regents’ opposing brief called the suggestion of a swift Circuit Court hearing and decision schedule “truly extraordinary,” saying it would not allow the appeals judges adequate time to study and decide the case.
The Circuit Court is expected to act soon on the scheduling issue.