In Exchange for a Border Wall, Trump Said He'd Protect DACA. Didn't a Judge Already Do That?

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As the partial government shutdown grinds into a month-long political stalemate, the president who bills himself as a dealmaker attempted to bargain with the Democrats: In a Saturday speech, President Donald Trump offered temporary protection for 700,000 young undocumented immigrants (who arrived in the country as children) in exchange for funding his proposed border wall.

Trump's proposal to renew legal protections for recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was immediately refused by Democratic leadership, who noted that it was Trump himself who removed those protections and threw DACA recipients into legal turmoil. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called the move "hostage taking."

Another aspect of Trump's offer might have struck some as a false deal: Though the president offered "protection" to DACA recipients, multiple federal courts have already ruled again Trump's attempt to rescind the program, and extended protections for its recipients. Does that mean Trump is offering to protect a program that was already saved?

In November, Pacific Standard looked into how, even though multiple federal courts halted the government's rollback after Trump tried to end DACA in September of 2017, the program itself is still in deep legal jeopardy.

"I see a lot of people call [these court decision] victories," Indira Marquez Robles, a DACA recipient attending university in Atlanta, said in November. "In a way, I do see it as a victory. But with these victories, there's no real change. I always feel like it's more like just holding on."

As Pacific Standard explained:

Legal experts tend to agree with Marquez Robles. Though DACA has scored a string of legal successes since the Trump administration attempted to end the program, these have done little to protect the program.

As a result of multiple court decisions, DACA recipients have gained back many of the protections that disappeared back in September of 2017. But those protections are not set in stone. There has been no final decision that determines DACA's status; all the aforementioned court decisions are still winding their way through an appeals process. Depending on how higher courts rule in the coming months, the injunctions protecting Dreamers could disappear for good.

With so many court cases, the future of DACA is impossible to predict, but it's likely that the judicial process protecting the program will soon run out of steam, and the program will lose its last defense.

The multiple court cases determining DACA's fate are complicated, and most are still making their way through the judicial system. Many expect the Supreme Court to adopt at least one of the cases in the coming months, which could mean a final ruling on the program later this year.

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