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High court to decide whether Trump can end protections for Dreamers

Red velvet drapes hang at the back of the courtroom at the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, June 20, 2016. (Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
Red velvet drapes hang at the back of the courtroom at the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, June 20, 2016. 

The Trump administration urged the U.S. Supreme Court to consider the White House's effort to end DACA protections for Dreamers. Today, justices agreed to do exactly that.

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Friday to decide the fate of DACA, the federal program that has allowed 700,000 young people -- known as "Dreamers" -- to avoid deportation.The court will hear the case during its next term, which begins in October.

The calendar is politically significant: if the justices hear oral arguments in the case in the fall or winter, we'll likely see a ruling around this time next year. Or put another way, the Supreme Court will likely issue its ruling on protections for Dreamers just as the major-party presidential nominating conventions are poised to get underway.

For those who need a refresher, it's worth considering the chain of events that brought us to this point. Barack Obama announced DACA protections for Dreamers shortly after the 2014 midterms, and the program worked exactly as intended -- right up until Donald Trump was elected.

As regular readers may recall, Candidate Trump vowed to pursue mass deportations, without exceptions. In a not-so-subtle shot at Dreamers, the Republican vowed, “[U]nlike this administration, no one will be immune or exempt from enforcement.” This followed related comments in which he said Dreamers “have to go.”

As president, however, Trump seemed to realize how radical a posture this was. A few months into his term, the Republican said Dreamers should “rest easy” about his immigration policies. Trump told the Associated Press at the time that he’s “not after the Dreamers, we are after the criminals.”

In September 2017, the administration changed course again, "rescinding" the program and its protections for the young immigrants.

For Trump, their fate became a bargaining chip, with the president telling congressional Democrats that the only way to save the Dreamers was to agree to finance a giant border wall. The gambit failed spectacularly for two reasons. First, when Dems grudgingly agreed to pay the ransom, the president balked and demanded even more concessions.

And second, several federal courts ended up blocking Trump's attempt, ruling that the administration couldn't scrap the DACA protections, and in the process, taking the president's political hostages away.

For now, Dreamers are safe, but the White House is far from satisfied with the status quo -- which is why Team Trump appealed the case to the Supreme Court.

With a five-member conservative majority, including two justices the president handpicked for the nation's highest bench, Trump probably likes his chances.