US top court blocks release of Trump 'Dreamer' immigrant documents

Supporters of Dreamers Act rally on Senate steps in Washington, on Dec 6.
Supporters of Dreamers Act rally on Senate steps in Washington, on Dec 6.PHOTO: REUTERS
Demonstrators' signs at a rally in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program outside the Capitol in Washington, on Dec 6.
Demonstrators' signs at a rally in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program outside the Capitol in Washington, on Dec 6.PHOTO: NYTIMES

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - The United States Supreme Court on Friday (Dec 8) granted a request by President Donald Trump's administration to block the immediate release of documents concerning his decision to end a programme that shielded from deportation hundreds of thousands of young adults dubbed "Dreamers" brought into the country illegally as children.

The justices put on hold an order by a federal judge in San Francisco for the administration to turn over the internal documents as part of several lawsuits he is overseeing, including one led by California's Democratic attorney general, challenging the legality of Mr Trump's September decision.

The court's action will remain in effect until the justices decide whether to permanently block US District Judge William Alsup's order in the lawsuits regarding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program created by Mr Trump's Democratic predecessor Barack Obama. Under Mr Trump's action, the protections offered by DACA disappear in March.

The lawsuits accuse the administration of violating the US Constitution's due process guarantee as well as statutory legal requirements for such a move.

Since its inception, the DACA programme has provided protection from deportation and work permits to about 800,000 mostly Hispanic young adults brought into the US illegally by their parents. At the time Mr Trump announced the rescinding of the programme, about 690,000 people were protected under DACA.

Mr Trump rescinded the programme as part of his hard-line immigration policies, calling DACA an unconstitutional overreach by Mr Obama. Mr Trump gave Congress until March to come up with new protections for the Dreamers.

Dreamers are a fraction of the roughly 11 million illegal immigrants in the US.

A federal appeals court had upheld Judge Alsup's order that an expansive trove of documents be handed over, prompting the administration to turn to the Supreme Court.

Blocking the document release could hinder the lower court's ability to rule on the case before the programme expires, according to the plaintiffs.

Mr Obama and his fellow Democrats have defended the programme as one that protects young people who grew up and were educated in the US and are Americans in every way but actual citizenship.