AILSA CHANG, HOST:
All right, now let's talk about something the Supreme Court chose not to do today. It said for now it would not hear a case about DACA, delivering a setback to the Trump administration's effort to end the program. DACA, of course, is the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which offers temporary protection for hundreds of thousands of immigrants brought illegally to the U.S. as children.
NPR's Domenico Montanaro joins us now to talk about what today's news means for DACA recipients. Hey, Domenico.
DOMENICO MONTANARO, BYLINE: Hey there, Ailsa.
CHANG: So two lower courts had already ruled on DACA before this announcement by the Supreme Court. So these rulings are intact for now. Can you just remind us, what were those rulings?
MONTANARO: Well, first we should point out that the court did not weigh in on the merits of this case at all one way or another. What it did do was say that this case has to go back before an appeals court because the Trump administration tried to skip that step. And that was the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in California, which is pretty well-known to be pretty liberal.
But today the Supreme Court said, no, they could not do that.
CHANG: OK. So while the lawsuits wind their way through the court system, what does this mean for DACA recipients? The Trump administration had set this March 5 deadline to fix or even end DACA, right? So what happens?
MONTANARO: You know, all of this has really understandably created a ton of confusion. So I reached out to a couple of federal agencies and legal experts to find out kind of what happens next. And Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, which is responsible for deportations, said there's no change as a result of today's decision. If you're a DACA recipient and are otherwise law-abiding, they say you're not a target for deportation.
The government agency that approves DACA applications says it's been renewing expired applications, not new ones, since the lower courts issued their injunctions. So no change there either, they said. As for what to expect from the courts, legal experts are saying that this could take several months to a year for the appeals process to play out and for the Supreme Court to rule.
So effectively, DACA recipients have been given a months-long, if not year-long reprieve as a result of today's action. And as for that March 5 deadline of next week, you know, it might be moved now. In fact, Xavier Becerra, who's the attorney general for the state of California which is involved in the case, I reached out to him today and he told me this afternoon he just sees March 5 now as, quote, "another date on the calendar."
CHANG: All right. And while all of this is going on, what about Congress? What are the chances Congress might actually come up with a legislative solution for DACA?
MONTANARO: (Laughter) Holding out hope, right? Congress is where the action really has to take place. But so far, it's failed in any attempt to come up with a solution that the president will accept. Today the White House called the lower court's ruling, quote, "a usurpation of legislative authority," throwing the ball right back in Congress' court. And so far, they've fumbled it.
CHANG: I see what you did there. That's NPR's Domenico Montanaro. Thank you very much.
MONTANARO: You're welcome.
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