Justice Dept., Fighting to Kill DACA, Asks for Supreme Court Review

Demonstrations in support of the program that shields young immigrants from deportation at the Russell Senate Office Building in Washington on Tuesday.

WASHINGTON — The Department of Justice said on Tuesday that it will ask the Supreme Court to immediately review a federal judge’s ruling that ordered the government to restart a program that shields some young illegal immigrants from deportation.

The administration’s request is unusual, and it comes amid an ongoing political battle over immigration. The program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, is at the center of it.

The Justice Department said it had also appealed the decision, issued by Judge William Alsup of the Federal District Court in San Francisco. His ruling imposed a nationwide stop on the Trump administration’s decision to end the program until litigation can be heard.

Elaine Duke, the acting homeland security secretary at the time, “acted within her discretion to rescind this policy with an orderly wind-down,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement. “We are now taking the rare step of requesting direct review on the merits of this injunction by the Supreme Court so that this issue may be resolved quickly and fairly for all the parties involved.”

The Justice Department’s request means that the case, brought by the University of California system and its president, Janet Napolitano, herself the former secretary of homeland security, could be heard by the Supreme Court even before it winds its way through the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Judges in individual cases have increasingly used their powers to put a nationwide stop to executive actions.

Federal courts in Texas used sweeping, national injunctions to stop then-president Barack Obama from implementing policies on transgender rights, overtime pay and other initiatives. More recently, judges in Hawaii, California and other states have used cases to push back on President Trump’s immigration and travel orders.

Legal scholars have questioned the practice of using an individual case to apply broad orders, saying that it encourages plaintiffs’ lawyers to shop around for sympathetic judges who will use the power of the court to impose their strong views on the country.

Mr. Sessions echoed that worry.

“It defies both law and common sense” for the beliefs of a single district court “to somehow be mandated nationwide,” he said.

After Mr. Trump used vulgar language to describe why he does not want people from certain countries in Africa and the Caribbean to immigrate to the United States, chances for a broad deal on immigration and spending began to unravel in Congress, increasing the likelihood of a government shutdown unless lawmakers reach a short-term spending agreement that puts off the big decisions.

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