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US Supreme Court keeps DACA immigration program in place for now

Lorena Jofre walks with her daughter before 7 am to take her to school before driving to work on February 9, 2018 in Miami, Florida. Lorena Jofre is one of approximately 800,000 immigrants that fall under the category of DACA.

The US Supreme Court has refused to allow the Trump administration to end the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, leaving their ultimate fate in the hands of Congress via legal procedures.

The highest court of the country refused to hear the Trump administration's challenge to a lower court ruling temporarily blocking it from winding down the DACA program that protects young immigrants from deportation.

The Supreme Court basically upheld an earlier decision by a federal judge to force a temporary nationwide halt on the move by President Donald Trump’s administration. The judge had issued the ruling to allow courts to consider legal challenges to the measure against the dreamers.

The decision was made just a week before a March 5 deadline set by Trump for Congress to enact legislation to replace the program established by former President Barrack Obama. It allows immigrants who entered the country illegally as children to work and go to school in the United States. 

A White House spokesman said in a statement after the court’s decision that the “clearly unlawful” DACA program benefits “illegal immigrants en masse.”

The Supreme Court’s order and the previous judicial rulings keep the Trump administration from ending the program on March 5, but around 100 DACA recipients have been losing their work permits and deportation deferrals every day, the Time reported.

The dispute over DACA dates back to 2012, when Obama founded the program without congressional action. The goal was to protect from deportation undocumented immigrants who were brought to the country as children, but many Republicans called it executive overreach and have remained opposed to the program.

Trump vowed to end the program on the campaign trail, but seemed to change his mind after winning election. He went back and forth over the future of DACA during his first months in office, but made his decision in September, when he announced that the program would end, but not until March 5, giving Congress six months to find a solution.

Today’s ruling basically throws the fate of the DACA program back into Congress’ hands.

What is DACA?

DACA is an executive action taken by Obama that allowed undocumented immigrants who came to the US under the age of 16 to apply for protection from deportation. After a background check, those individuals were able to get renewable two-year permits to work and study in the US, as well.

Since it went into effect in 2012, roughly 800,000 people were protected by the program, and roughly 700,000 had active DACA protections in September, when the Trump administration announced its end.

To be eligible, applicants had to have arrived in the US before age 16 and have lived there since June 15, 2007. They could not have been older than 30 when the Department of Homeland Security enacted the policy in 2012.

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