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Trump administration urges Supreme Court to fast-track decision on DACA

The Trump administration is urging the Supreme Court to quickly determine if it will hear oral arguments in a prolonged legal battle over President Trump's decision to terminate the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which shields approximately 800,000 undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children from deportation.

In a brief filed with little fanfare late last week, the Justice Department asked the conservative-leaning court to announce whether it intends to hold arguments before the end of June on several petitions concerning the administration's 2017 decision to wind down the program.

U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco, who represents the federal government before the high court, said it's "critical" for the justices to make a decision before they enter their summer recess. This would allow the government and plaintiffs to prepare briefs for oral arguments before the court's fall term, Francisco said in his brief.

The solicitor general raised several concerns about the prolonged litigation surrounding the program, which has been kept alive after several lower courts ruled against the administration. Francisco urged the court to "expedite" his request and consolidate the handful of cases for consideration next term. 

In one passage, Francisco suggested that efforts by Congress to address the situation of those covered under DACA were being stymied by the ongoing court cases. "The very existence of this pending litigation (and lingering uncertainty) continues to impede efforts to enact legislation addressing the legitimate policy concerns underlying the DACA policy," he wrote. 

Several efforts to place young undocumented immigrants, dubbed DREAMers, on a pathway to citizenship have failed for nearly two decades. Although Mr. Trump has expressed some sympathy for this group of immigrants, he has repeatedly opposed stand-alone bills to legalize DACA recipients, and his administration did not include a permanent fix for the program in its latest immigration plan, spearheaded by White House senior adviser Jared Kushner. 

In the coming weeks, House Democrats are set hold a floor vote on their latest version of the DREAM Act, which would put millions of young undocumented immigrants — as well as immigrants with temporary protections — on a pathway to U.S. citizenship. 

The Supreme Court is expected to consider the Justice Department's latest petition Thursday during a closed-door session. 

Since then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced in 2017 that the government would move to gradually dismantle the program, four federal circuit courts have issued injunctions — one as recently as last week — blocking the administration from ending the program. Since late last year, the Justice Department has asked the Supreme Court, which now includes two justices appointed by the president, to take up the case. 

The government currently allows DACA recipients to renew their protections — valid for two years — but it is not accepting new applications.

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