The Supreme Court delivered a blow to President Trump Thursday when it blocked the administration's attempt to end an Obama-era program shielding undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children from deportation.
The long-anticipated ruling provides hundreds of thousands of recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program temporary relief, however, it doesn't rule out future attempts to terminate the program.
The program, established in 2012, protects undocumented immigrants who were brought to the US as children from deportation and allows them to work legally in the US. Recipients are required to renew their protections every two years. The program doesn't provide permanent protection or a pathway to citizenship.
There are nearly 650,000 DACA recipients, the majority of whom are from Mexico.
Here's what to know:
What does the SCOTUS decision mean for DACA recipients?
The decision provides some reprieve to the thousands of people enrolled in the program. For now, beneficiaries of the program can continue to live and work in the United States without fear of deportation. It's unclear whether the administration will be required to take new applications.
What did the justices say?
The 5-4 ruling was written by Chief Justice John Roberts and joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor. The ruling emphasizes that the administration failed to provide an adequate reason to justify ending the DACA program.
"We do not decide whether DACA or its rescission are sound policies," Roberts wrote in the majority opinion. "The wisdom' of those decisions 'is none of our concern.' We address only whether the agency complied with the procedural requirement that it provide a reasoned explanation for its action."
But the majority opinion will send the case back down to the lower courts which could be dealing with the case until after the election.
Will DACA stay in place indefinitely?
The Supreme Court's ruling Thursday was specific to how the program was rescinded, not the program's legality. It's possible, then, that the Trump administration could go back and try to end DACA again, but they have a narrow window to do so given the upcoming election. Roberts acknowledged that possibility.
"The appropriate recourse is therefore to remand to DHS so that it may consider the problem anew," Roberts wrote, citing failures by the administration to in part consider the hardship to DACA recipients.
"The basic rule here is clear: An agency must defend its actions based on the reasons it gave when it acted. This is not the case for cutting corners to allow DHS to rely upon reasons absent from its original decision," he wrote.
Professor Stephen Yale-Loehr of Cornell Law School explained: "The administration may try to terminate the DACA program with a better justification, but that will take months or years."
Why can't DACA recipients get legal status through other means?
Many undocumented immigrants who fall under this group are unable to obtain legal status on their own because they were either brought into the country illegally or they overstayed their visas. That often precludes them from becoming a lawful permanent resident because one of the requirements is having entered -- and resided in -- the country legally.
Can Congress give recipients protection?
The short answer is yes and unlike the DACA program, it'd be permanent. But moving legislation during an election year will be challenging and the issue is likely to face an uphill battle in the Republican-controlled in Senate.
It's been a year since the US House of Representatives introduced and passed a bill that would in part provide a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients, but it hasn't come up for a vote in the Senate.