DAVID GREENE, HOST:
The U.S. Supreme Court signaled yesterday that it may let the Trump administration shut down the Obama-era program that granted temporary protection from deportation to roughly 700,000 young people. They're commonly known as DREAMers. They were brought to the U.S. illegally as children and were allowed to legally work and apply for college loans if they met certain requirements and passed a background check. The program, begun in 2012, is known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. Here's more from NPR legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg.
NINA TOTENBERG, BYLINE: Until Tuesday, the administration had consistently maintained that it had no choice but to pull the plug on DACA because, as Trump's attorney general put it in a one-page letter in 2017, the administration viewed the program as illegal and unconstitutional from the beginning. But yesterday, the administration's top legal advocate, solicitor general Noel Francisco, told the justices that even if DACA was and is legal, President Trump has decided to shut it down.
He rejected the arguments from the DREAMers' lawyers, who contended that a conflicted President Trump didn't want to take responsibility for getting rid of a program that has widespread public support. Francisco told the justices the opposite is true about shutting down DACA. We own it, he said - words that Republican politicians may not love.
Based on the hostile reception the DACA plaintiffs got from the conservative court majority, shutting down DACA may well become a reality in 2020, and so too may we own it. While President Trump has often said he wanted to protect the DREAMers, he's repeatedly backed away from legislative compromises worked out by Republican and Democratic congressional leaders.
A decision in the DACA case is expected by summer, just as the 2020 election is kicking into high gear. If Republicans in Congress were hoping the high court would let them off the hook by ruling in favor of DACA, though, those hopes look dimmer now. Nina Totenberg, NPR News, Washington.
(SOUNDBITE OF EVENINGS' "LO-VELO")
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.