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The Supreme Court said Friday it will hear arguments over the legality of the Trump administration's decision to terminate the Obama-era immigration program known as DACA, which shields certain young migrants brought to the United States illegally from deportation and allows them to receive work permits.
The justices announced in an order that they will take up three cases on the matter in their next term, beginning in October. A decision is expected by next June, in the thick of the 2020 presidential campaign.
The issue has already become an election flash point, particularly as immigration remains in the national focus.
Many 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls have pledged to reverse Trump's decision to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, and to support the "dreamers," as those protected by the program are known. During the Democratic debate on Thursday, Sen. Kamala Harris of California pledged to officially reinstate the program on the first day of her presidency if she is elected.
Trump has not been able to end the program outright, after several lower courts rejected his efforts. His administration pushed the high court to reverse those rulings in the term that ends Friday. But the justices took no action, leaving in place the rulings that blocked the president's efforts to dismantle the program.
DACA recipients numbered about 700,000 when Trump ordered the program to wind down in September 2017, according to government figures.
The top court has been deferential to the president's authority in immigration matters. Last year, the justices ruled 5-4 that a version of Trump's so-called travel ban was constitutional. Since then, Trump's second nominee to the high court, Justice Brett Kavanaugh, replaced the less reliably conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy.
The court on Friday also declined to review a restrictive Alabama abortion law from 2016 that had been blocked by two federal courts. That decision will keep the law from taking effect.