Judge Upholds Decision to End DACA

March 7, 2018

A federal district judge in Maryland on Monday upheld the Trump administration’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which offers temporary protection against deportation and provides the right to work to hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children, known as Dreamers. The ruling has no immediate practical effect, as federal judges in California and New York previously ordered nationwide temporary injunctions barring the Trump administration from ending the program as planned.

Whereas the other two district judges found that the administration’s reasoning for ending DACA was arbitrary and capricious and based on the flawed legal conclusion that DACA was unlawful, Judge Roger W. Titus of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland found that based on a review of the administrative record, “it was reasonable for [the Department of Homeland Security] to have concluded -- right or wrong -- that DACA was unlawful and should be wound down in an orderly manner.”

Judge Titus indicated he would have preferred to come to a different conclusion. “The result of this case is not one that this Court would choose if it were a member of a different branch of our government,” the opinion states. “An overwhelming percentage of Americans support protections for 'Dreamers,' yet it is not the province of the judiciary to provide legislative or executive actions when those entrusted with those responsibilities fail to act.”

A legislative solution for Dreamers has been elusive since the Trump administration announced plans to end the DACA program in September. The Senate failed to pass three separate bills that would have codified protections for Dreamers. After initially suggesting he would sign whatever bill Congress sent him, President Trump has shifted his stance to insist that legislation protecting Dreamers include other immigration-related provisions anathema to many Democrats, specifically $25 billion for a southern border wall, the elimination of the diversity visa lottery program and new restrictions on family-based immigration.

While Judge Titus's ruling may not have a practical effect, CNN noted that it represents a symbolic victory for the Trump administration. CNN quoted Department of Judiciary spokesman Devin O'Malley: "The Department of Justice has long maintained that DHS acted within its lawful authority in making the discretionary decision to wind down DACA in an orderly manner, and we welcome the good news today that the district court in Maryland strongly agrees," O'Malley said. "Today's decision also highlights a serious problem with the disturbing growth in the use of nationwide injunctions, which causes the Maryland court's correct judgment in favor of the government to be undermined by the overbroad injunctions that have been entered by courts in other states."

Trump also cited the ruling in a tweet in which he cast blame for lack of a solution for Dreamers on Democrats.

CASA, the immigrant rights group that filed the lawsuit, said in a statement it was weighing its legal options. “The judiciary is the last line of defense for the Dreamers and we still hope we can depend on the courts to save our young people from deportations,” said Gustavo Torres, CASA's executive director. “With the lack of action from Congress and the president’s decision to cancel the program with no solution in place, we see the judiciary branch as our last hope. President Trump broke up DACA and as far as we see it, is showing no intention to fix it.”

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