SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – The U.S. Justice Department is appealing a court order that blocked the Trump administration from shutting down a program that shields more than 700,000 young immigrants from deportation.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Tuesday the Justice Department would take "the rare step" of asking the Supreme Court to directly review a court order issued by U.S. District Judge William Alsup last week.
On Jan. 9, Alsup ordered the federal government to revive the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), which provides work permits and protection from deportation for immigrants who arrived in the U.S. before the age of 16.
“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 [Deferred Action for Parents of Americans] policy – to somehow be mandated nationwide by a single district court in San Francisco,” Sessions said in his announcement.
The Trump administration announced in September that it would wind the program down and stop renewing DACA applications on March 5.
Alsup found the decision to terminate DACA was likely based on a "flawed legal premise" that the program was enacted illegally by the Obama administration and that it would not survive a challenge in court.
Despite Sessions' request to go straight to the Supreme Court, the case must first go through the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which has previously blocked President Donald Trump's other immigration policies, such as a ban on immigration from certain majority-Muslim countries.
After Alsup issued his ruling last week, President Donald Trump tweeted: "It just shows everyone how broken and unfair our Court System is when the opposing side in a case (such as DACA) always runs to the 9th Circuit and almost always wins before being reversed by higher courts."
In December, the Supreme Court overturned a Ninth Circuit ruling that would have forced the Trump administration to turn over all documents considered in the decision to rescind DACA, including those reviewed by the White House and lower-level employees in the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security.
On Friday, Alsup refused to dismiss claims that Trump's allegedly racist views towards Latinos played a role in the decision to rescind DACA.
California is one of four states that challenged the decision to end DACA. Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, the University of California system, the city of San Jose, Santa Clara County, Service Employees International Union Local 521, and individual DACA recipients, or Dreamers, also sued to stop the rollback.
In a statement issued Tuesday, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said he is confident the appellate courts will "see the logic and justice" behind Judge Alsup's decision.
"The unlawful action by the Trump Administration to terminate DACA impacts the lives and livelihood of hundreds of thousands of Dreamers, their colleagues, our universities, our businesses and our economy," Becerra said.
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