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Court Upholds Injunction Keeping DACA in Place

November 9, 2018

A panel of three judges from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed a district court ruling blocking the Trump administration from ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, an Obama-era program that provides protection against deportation and work authorization to hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children, including many college students. The Trump administration had moved to end DACA, arguing that the program is unlawful and that its establishment represented an unconstitutional attempt on the part of Obama to circumvent immigration laws passed by Congress.

Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw wrote in the court's opinion that the administration acted to rescind DACA based on the “erroneous view” that it was illegal. Wardlaw wrote that deferred action -- defined as "a revocable decision by the government not to deport an otherwise removable person from the country" -- has been an established feature of the U.S. immigration system for decades and that "DACA was a permissible exercise of executive discretion."

“To be clear: we do not hold that DACA could not be rescinded as an exercise of Executive Branch discretion. We hold only that here, where the Executive did not make a discretionary choice to end DACA -- but rather acted based on an erroneous view of what the law required -- the rescission was arbitrary and capricious under settled law,” wrote Wardlaw, a Clinton appointee.

The case was brought by the University of California, which issued a statement. “Today’s decision is yet another strong message from our nation’s courts that the government’s attempt to rescind DACA was unlawful. The government’s only justification for rescinding DACA -- that the program itself is legally flawed -- is unfounded. Now that the appellate court has definitively rejected this argument, the university calls on the administration to stop its efforts to rescind the program.”

The battle may soon be headed to the Supreme Court. The Trump administration had already asked the Supreme Court to take up the case and two others challenging the decision to end DACA even before the Ninth Circuit ruled.


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