The Justice Department formally asked the Supreme Court Thursday night to review a federal judge's ruling from last week that blocked the Trump administration's effort to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Solicitor General Noel Francisco argued in a court filing that the lower court ruling was "unprecedented." The administration asked the court to resolve the dispute this term, but did not ask justices to immediately halt the lower court order.
The move from the Trump administration comes as DACA is central to the debate over a possible government shutdown. Congressional Democrats are seeking to force action on a permanent solution for DACA and its 700,000 participants and possibly blocking a spending bill that would keep the government open past Friday night.
Earlier this week the administration warned that it planned to take the unusual step of asking for direct review from the Supreme Court, attempting to skip over the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Under normal circumstances, the Supreme Court disfavors parties from bypassing lower court proceedings and asking for direct review, but the Trump administration says the step is necessary.
"The district court has entered a nationwide injunction that requires (the Department of Homeland Security) to keep in place a policy of non-enforcement that no one contends is required by federal law and that DHS has determined is, in fact, unlawful and should be discontinued," Francisco wrote.
"The district court's unprecedented order requires the government to sanction indefinitely an ongoing violation of federal law being committed by nearly 700,000 aliens -- and, indeed, to confer on them affirmative benefits (including work authorization) -- pursuant to the DACA policy," he added.
At issue is a ruling by federal District Judge William Alsup who blocked the plan to end DACA and said the Trump administration must resume receiving DACA renewal applications.
In his 49-page ruling, Alsup said "plaintiffs have shown that they are likely to succeed on the merits of their claim that the rescission was arbitrary and capricious" and must be set aside under the federal Administrative Procedures Act.
The judge said a nationwide injunction was "appropriate" because "our country has a strong interest in the uniform application of immigration law and policy."
"Plaintiffs have established injury that reaches beyond the geographical bounds of the Northern District of California. The problem affects every state and territory of the United States," he wrote.
Last Saturday the administration, citing Alsup's order, resumed accepting requests to renew a grant of deferred action under the program.