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DACA case could hit the Supreme Court in a matter of months, experts say

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In this 2017 file photo, the Supreme Court is seen in the morning in Washington, D.C. Many believe the legal fight over the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program is headed toward the high court, and could be an issue the justices take up in their next term. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

President Trump's effort to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program could land on the Supreme Court's docket in a matter of months, according to legal experts.

The court this week ignored the Trump administration's request to bypass the appeals process, and rule immediately on whether a lower court can block it from winding down DACA, the Obama-era program that helped 700,000 illegal immigrants stay in the U.S. and work.

But many believe the issue is headed toward the high court, and could be an issue the justices take up in their next term. Trump's Justice Department appealed to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, and briefs are due by April 10.

The case is likely to “move pretty quickly” in the 9th Circuit, said Josh Blackman, a professor at the South Texas College of Law. He anticipates the case to be considered by the Supreme Court in the next term, which starts in October.

Andrew Pincus, a Supreme Court litigator at the firm Mayer Brown, predicted oral arguments for the case before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals will take place at the end of April or early May.

A federal judge in New York issued a nationwide injunction last month blocking the Trump administration from winding down DACA. That case will wind up before the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and Pincus said it could follow a similar schedule as that in the 9th Circuit.

He outlined a timeline where the losing party would try to take the case to the high court, and said “barring something extraordinary,” it would be acted on in the first order list expected from the court at the end of September.

The case could then be argued at the earliest in December and decided at the latest by the end of June 2019.

"I assume that whatever happens, whether the government wins or loses on DACA or the states or DACA beneficiaries win or lose, that the cases are headed to the Supreme Court like the travel ban cases and the [Affordable Care Act] cases in the Obama administration,” Pincus said.

The Trump administration announced in September it would end the DACA program by March 5, setting up a six-month deadline for Congress to address those who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children and protected from the threat of deportation.

But the Supreme Court’s decision not to consider the DACA case at this time eases the pressure on Congress to find a legislative replacement for DACA, given the injunctions from the two federal judges.

In the meantime, the judges in New York and California said, the Trump administration must continue accepting renewal applications.