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After Supreme Court ruling, Texas DACA case could offer another chance at ending program

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A demonstrator outside the U.S. Supreme Court as justices heard oral arguments regarding the Trump administration’s bid to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

The Trump Administration is looking for another way to end the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, and a pending case in Texas could be a catalyst for the next round of litigation, according to reports.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday rejected the president’s attempt to end the program nearly three years after Trump first announced he would phase it out. In a 5-4 opinion, the court stated that the Department of Homeland Security didn’t properly end the program according to federal procedures and didn’t take into account the effects it would have on hundreds of thousands of DACA beneficiaries.

Friday morning the president tweeted that his administration didn’t win or lose, but that the court instead told the White House to try again.

“The Supreme Court asked us to resubmit on DACA, nothing was lost or won,” he said. “We will be submitting enhanced papers shortly in order to properly fulfill the Supreme Court’s ruling and request on [Thursday].”

Since its inception, DACA has provided about 130,000 Texans with protection from deportation proceedings and a renewable, two-year work permit. As of December 2019, about 107,000 were still receiving the benefit.

The case the Supreme Court heard, Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of the University of California, came out of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. But in a separate DACA case, a federal judge in Texas on Thursday ordered both sides to file paperwork next month following the high court’s opinion, NBC reported.

Tom Goldstein, a Washington D.C. attorney and publisher of SCOTUSblog, told the network that the president’s tweet was little more than bluster, and the real threat to the DACA program could be the Texas lawsuit.

That lawsuit was filed in 2018 in the Southern District of Texas by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and nine other states eventually joined the case, claiming that former President Obama exceeded his authority when he unilaterally enacted DACA.

Federal district Judge Andrew Hanen, who heard the case, declined to temporarily stop the program in August 2018, ruling that while the states had a valid argument, they took too long in seeking a temporary injunction. He added at the time that there was mounting evidence showing that ending the program “was in contrary to the best interests of the public.”

"Here, the egg has been scrambled. To try to put it back in the shell with only a preliminary injunction record, and perhaps at great risk to many, does not make sense nor serve the best interests of this country," Hanen wrote.

Paxton subsequently asked Hanen for a summary judgement on the case in 2019, but Hanen put the case on hold pending the Supreme Court's decision. On Thursday, Hanen asked both sides to file reports "setting out their respective positions" by next month. Paxton, meanwhile announced that his office would proceed with the lawsuit.

“We are disappointed with today’s SCOTUS decision, but it does not resolve the underlying issue that President Obama’s original executive order exceeded his constitutional authority,” Paxton said in a written statement. “We look forward to continuing litigating that issue in our case now pending in the Southern District of Texas.”