Second Judge Orders DACA to Continue

February 14, 2018

A second federal district court has temporarily blocked the Trump administration’s plans to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which grants protection against deportation and work authorization to hundreds of thousands of young immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children, including many college students. In September, the Trump administration announced plans to end the program as of March 5, but a federal judge for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California issued a temporary nationwide injunction in January that ordered the government to largely reinstate DACA pending the resolution of court challenges.

Tuesday’s ruling from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York similarly orders the Trump administration to maintain the DACA program largely as it existed on Sept. 4 -- prior to the issuance of a memo ending it -- pending a decision on the merits of the cases. Under the terms of the preliminary injunction, the government must continue processing DACA applications, but is not required to consider new applications from individuals who never previously received DACA. 

U.S. District Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis wrote that it is “indisputable” the government can end the DACA program -- which was established in 2012 by former president Obama -- but that it did not offer “legally adequate reasons” for doing so.

“First, the decision to end the DACA program appears to rest exclusively on a legal conclusion that the program was unconstitutional and violated the [Administrative Procedure Act] and [Immigration and Nationality Act],” Garaufis wrote. “Because that conclusion was erroneous, the decision to end the DACA program cannot stand. Second, this erroneous conclusion appears to have relied in part on the plainly incorrect factual premise that courts have recognized 'constitutional defects' in the somewhat analogous Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents ('DAPA') program. Third, Defendants' decision appears to be internally contradictory, as the means by which Defendants chose to 'wind down' the program (namely, by continuing to adjudicate certain DACA renewal applications) cannot be reconciled with their stated rationale for ending the program (namely, that DACA was unconstitutional). Any of these flaws would support invalidating the DACA rescission as arbitrary and capricious.”

Reuters reported that the Supreme Court is expected to consider this week whether to take up the Trump administration's appeal of the first of the two injunctions. The court could announce its decision as early as Friday.

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