(CN) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected the Trump administration’s request to take up its challenge to a court order blocking the White House from shutting down a program that shields more than 700,000 young immigrants from deportation.
The nation’s highest court denied the Justice Department’s bid to hear its appeal of U.S. District Judge William Alsup’s finding last month that the Trump administration relied on a “flawed legal premise” to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program last year.
That decision restored the Obama-era program, called DACA for short, that protects more than 700,000 immigrants who came to the United States before the age of 16 from being deported.
On Monday, the Supreme Court denied the Trump administration’s petition for a writ of certiorari in the case brought by the Regents of the University of California.
The White House had asked the justices to jump ahead of the Ninth Circuit in reviewing the case, but they declined.
“It is assumed that the court of appeals will proceed expeditiously to decide this case,” the high court said in Monday’s brief order.
DACA recipients, or Dreamers, were brought to the United States as children, usually with their parents. To qualify for DACA, they must have clean records during their years in the United States, and meet other requirements.
Judge Alsup in San Francisco ruled Jan. 9 that without a nationwide injunction, Dreamers would likely suffer irreparable harm, leading to harmful ripple effects on the nation’s economy and healthcare system.
“This would tear authorized workers from our nation’s economy and would prejudice their being able to support themselves and their families, not to mention paying taxes to support our nation,” Alsup wrote.
Alsup found “litigation risk” was not proper justification for ending DACA because the Trump administration never considered defending the program against a potential legal challenge from Texas and nine other states.
“Nowhere in the administrative record did the Attorney General or the agency consider whether defending the program in court would (or would not) be worth the litigation risk,” Alsup wrote in a 49-page ruling.
The DACA program was started in 2012 under former President Barrack Obama, providing work permits and protection from deportation to those who came to the United States before the age of 16.
The Trump administration announced last September that it would wind the program down and stop renewing DACA applications on March 5. Judge Alsup’s ruling ordered the federal government to revive the program.
The case must now go through the Ninth Circuit, which has previously blocked President Donald Trump’s other immigration policies, such as a ban on immigration from certain majority-Muslim countries.
Justice Department spokesman Devin O’Malley said in a statement that the administration will continue to defend its “lawful authority to wind down DACA in an orderly manner.”
“While we were hopeful for a different outcome, the Supreme Court very rarely grants certiorari before judgment, though in our view it was warranted for the extraordinary injunction requiring the Department of Homeland Security to maintain DACA,” O’Malley said.
White House spokesman Raj Shah said in a statement that DACA is “clearly unlawful” and the administration expects to prevail in court.
The University of California, which brought the underlying case, said it was pleased with the Supreme Court’s decision.
“As we argued to the court, it was inappropriate for the Trump administration to short circuit standard appellate procedure and attempt to skip the U.S. Court of Appeals — a precipitous approach that echoes the government’s procedurally improper rescission of DACA at the heart of this case,” according to a statement from the university system. “Now that the administration’s extraordinary maneuver has been rightfully rejected, we look forward to defending U.S. District Judge William Alsup’s injunction in the court of appeals.”