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Supreme Court refuses White House’s request to overrule lower court’s DACA injunction

President Donald Trump shakes hands with Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch (right) alongside Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts (from left), Justice Stephen Breyer, and Elena Kagan, during the State of the Union Address on Jan. 30 in Washington, D.C. The Supreme Court has refused to review federal district court injunctions against the Trump administration’s repeal of the DACA program. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

The Supreme Court has refused to review federal district court injunctions against the Trump administration’s repeal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

The administration announced in September that it would repeal the program, which prevented children of illegal immigrants, or “Dreamers,” from being deported and gave them work permits, stating in its reasoning that President Barack Obama did not have the legal authority to start the program via executive order in the first place.

The Trump administration had requested that the Supreme Court intervene after federal district judges in New York and California issued nationwide injunctions to block the repeal.

The Supreme Court did not give a reason for its refusal. It did, however, ask the federal appeals court to "proceed expeditiously."

The Trump administration had a good reason to think that the Supreme Court would rule in their favor (and still might at a later date). In 2016, the court was tied 4-4 and failed to overturn another lower court injunction, this time against the Obama administration's DAPA program (DAPA deals with illegal immigrant parents) and plans to expand DACA. If the other eight justices vote the same way as they did in 2016, Trump appointee Neil Gorsuch could swing a decision on DACA in favor of the administration's position.

While certainly not what the administration wanted to hear, the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear this case does not destroy the White House’s immigration agenda. Nor does it mean that they won't take the case up in the future. As CNN reported, it would have been unusual for the court to take up the case before it had worked its way through the appellate court. This decision does, however, mean that this debate most likely will not be going away anytime soon.

Frequent Trump critic Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) plans to get the Senate to vote on a limited DACA solution this week. But despite White House backing, the last proposal to come up with a DACA solution failed to get enough votes in the Senate to move forward. Trump himself has asked Congress to come up with legislation that would provide Dreamers with a path to citizenship.

White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah responded to the decision by slamming DACA, although he avoided criticizing the Supreme Court directly.

“The DACA program — which provides work permits and myriad government benefits to illegal immigrants en masse — is clearly unlawful,” Shah said in an official statement. “The district judge’s decision to unilaterally re-impose a program that Congress had explicitly and repeatedly rejected is a usurpation of legislative authority.”

“The fact that this occurs at a time when elected representatives in Congress are actively debating this policy only underscores that the district judge has unwisely intervened in the legislative process," Shah continued. "We look forward to having this case expeditiously heard by the appeals court and, if necessary, the Supreme Court, where we fully expect to prevail.”

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