Bush-appointed judge deals huge setback to Trump administration on DACA

A federal judge rules Trump's DACA rescission was "unlawful and must be set aside"

Published April 25, 2018 10:48AM (EDT)

 (AP/Evan Vucci/Getty/Spencer Platt)
(AP/Evan Vucci/Getty/Spencer Platt)

In another major blow to the Trump administration's efforts to end the Obama-era program Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a federal judge on Tuesday ruled that the program must remain in place and also must accept new applications.

U.S. District Judge John D. Bates in Washington ruled that the Department of Homeland Security failed to "adequately explain its conclusion that the program was unlawful."

Bates, who was nominated by former President George W. Bush in 2001, is the third judge to thwart the Trump administration's efforts to end the program, which allows undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children the opportunity to work and study. However, this was the first ruling to order the government to accept new applicants.

"Federal judges in Brooklyn and in San Francisco each issued injunctions ordering that the program remain in place. But neither of those decisions required the government to accept new applications," The New York Times reported.

Bates' ruling also stated, "Here, the Department’s decision to rescind DACA was predicated primarily on its legal judgment that the program was unlawful. That legal judgment was virtually unexplained." Bates added that DACA's "rescission was arbitrary and capricious."

But the ruling does not immediately take effect, as Bates delayed it for 90 days "to allow the agency an opportunity to better explain its rescission." The judge said that if the DHS does not justify its reasoning that DACA was unlawful in the next 90 days, the program will have to resume.

The lawsuit was filed by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), along with Microsoft and Princeton University.

"Princeton higher education and our country benefit from the talent and aspirations that Dreamers bring to our communities," Christopher Eisgruber, the school's president said in a statement, according to the Times. "We continue to urge Congress to enact a permanent solution."

Trump originally rescinded the program back in September and left it up to Congress to come up with solutions. On numerous occasions, Trump was presented with bipartisan proposals to keep DACA intact, but he ultimately rejected them and proceeded to instead put the blame on the Democrats. On Easter Sunday, he boasted on Twitter about how there was "NO MORE DACA DEAL" because he said "these big flows of people are all trying to take advantage of DACA."

Similarly, the Justice Department has remained firm in its stance that DACA is an "unlawful circumvention of Congress." As the Times reported, DOJ officials will "continue to vigorously defend" the legality of its decision to end the program.

In the big picture, the Trump administration has cracked down on immigration, and the president has made it one of the key priorities of his agenda. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrests have skyrocketed, and he has battled the courts endlessly to have a travel ban put in place for people from Muslim-majority countries.

By Charlie May

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Daca Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals Immigration President Donald Trump Trump Administration