DACA: Trump dealt another blow as court orders reinstatement
On Jan. 23, 2018, immigrant rights advocates hold a rally for a "clean" Dream Act on Capitol Hill in Washington. | Andrew Harnik / AP

“We will immediately terminate President Obama’s two illegal executive amnesties, in which he defied federal law and the Constitution to give amnesty to approximately 5 million illegal immigrants.” – Donald Trump, 2016

U.S. District Judge John D. Bates ruled yesterday that the Trump administration must resume the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that protected hundreds of thousands of young immigrants from deportation.

The ruling also included a 90-day reprieve for the administration to resubmit its arguments before the full order takes effect.

Judge Bates found that the Department of Homeland Security had “failed to adequately explain its conclusion that the program was unlawful.” In her decision, he further stated, “Neither the meager legal reasoning nor the assessment of litigation risk provided by DHS to support rescission decision is sufficient to sustain termination of the DACA program.”

The court also found that the Trump administration’s argument that the case could not be reviewed under the Administrative Procedure Act because DACA was withdrawn simply due to fear of litigation as lacking merit.

The Trump administration said in September that it would phase out DACA over six months, calling it an “abuse of power” by the Obama administration and arguing it was forced to act because Texas and other states threatened to sue.

“DACA’s rescission was a general enforcement policy predicated on DHS’s legal determination that the program was invalid when it was adopted. And although the government has sought to cast the department’s assessment of ‘litigation risk’ as a discretionary justification…that justification is insufficiently independent from the agency’s evaluation of DACA’s legality.”

Judge Bates, in his written decision, further said:

“The Department’s failure to give an adequate explanation of its legal judgment was particularly egregious here in light of the reliance interests involved. … The Rescission Memo made no mention of the fact that DACA had been in place for five years and had engendered the reliance of hundreds of thousands of beneficiaries, many of whom had structured their education, employment, and other life activities on the assumption that they would be able to renew their DACA benefits. The Supreme Court has set aside changes in agency policy for failure to consider reliance interests that pale in comparison to the ones at stake here.”

Praising the decision, the National Immigration Law Center tweeted, “What remains clear is the need for Congress to enact a permanent solution to protect Dreamers and end the uncertainty governing the lives of immigrant youth, their families, and communities.”

Nearly 690,000 people were enrolled in the DACA program when the Trump administration announced its intent to rescind it.

“While the decision does not fully resolve the uncertainty facing DACA beneficiaries, it unequivocally rejects the rationale the government has offered for ending the program and makes clear that the (Department of Homeland Security) acted arbitrarily and capriciously,” said Princeton President Christopher L. Eisburger.

The Trustees of Princeton University and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) were named plaintiffs in the lawsuit against the administration.

U.S. District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco ruled in January that the administration failed to justify ending the program and his nationwide injunction forced the administration to resume accepting renewal requests within a week. U.S. District Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis in New York issued a similar decision in February.

This latest ruling against the administration comes as the Supreme Court’s conservative justices indicated earlier today that they are likely to uphold Trump’s travel ban targeting several Muslim-majority countries.

Read the full decision here.


Al Neal
Al Neal

Award winning journalist Al Neal is PW associate editor for labor and politics. He is also the chief photographer for People's World. He is a member of the Chicago News Guild, Society of Professional Journalists, Professional Photographers of America, National Sports Media Association, and The Ernest Brooks Foundation.