DOJ says it plans to ask Supreme Court to allow it to end DACA

The step would skip the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

ByABC News
January 16, 2018, 7:34 PM

— -- The Department of Justice today appealed a federal court ruling that had forced the Trump administration to again accept renewal applications for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients.

The administration, which is seeking to appeal a lower court ruling to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, announced that later this week it intends to take the "rare step" of seeking direct review in the Supreme Court.

"It defies both law and common sense for DACA — an entirely discretionary non-enforcement policy that was implemented unilaterally by the last administration after Congress rejected similar legislative proposals and courts invalidated the similar DAPA policy — to somehow be mandated nationwide by a single district court in San Francisco," said Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Last week, a federal district judge in California issued a preliminary injunction against the end of the DACA program, which was started by the Obama administration to offer deportation relief and work authorization to young people brought to the U.S. as children, known as "Dreamers."

DAPA was a similar program that would have expanded protections to many parents of Dreamers but was eventually blocked by the courts.

Sessions said that acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke, who was the head of DHS at the time of the decision to end the program, "acted within her discretion to rescind this policy with an orderly wind down."

"We are now taking the rare step of requesting direct review on the merits of this injunction by the Supreme Court so that this issue may be resolved quickly and fairly for all the parties involved," Sessions added.

The Supreme Court will only hear cases that are still pending in the lower court, if it can be shown the case is of "such imperative public importance as to justify deviation from normal appellate practice and to require immediate determination" in the Supreme Court.

On Sept. 5, the Trump administration announced it was ending the program and phasing it out over the following months.

Since the program's initiation in 2012, nearly 800,000 unauthorized immigrants have been granted protection. DACA recipients who had status through March 5 of this year were allowed to re-apply for the two-year extension, but many young people have already begun to lose their status.

Since the administration announced the end to DACA, 12,710 DACA recipients have had their status expire, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which manages the program under DHS.

On Sunday, USCIS announced that due to the federal court order, the agency had resumed accepting requests to renew a grant of deferred action under DACA.

"Until further notice, and unless otherwise provided in this guidance, the DACA policy will be operated on the terms in place before it was rescinded on Sept. 5, 2017," read its notice.

This comes amid a contentious debate on Capitol Hill and at the White House over how to proceed with a permanent solution for Dreamers.

Now-DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen insisted today that only Congress can reach a solution for Dreamers during a contentious congressional hearing, where she was repeatedly hammered on the president's reported derogatory remarks made in the Oval Office during an immigration meeting last week.

Democrats insist that if Republicans want their support for a spending deal, it must include a legislative fix to help DACA recipients. Republicans maintain that DACA must be dealt with separately from spending negotiations.

Congress has until midnight Friday to strike a deal on a host of issues -- with DACA at the forefront -- before government funding is set to run out.

ABC News' Mariam Khan contributed to this story.

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