NY Times: “Trump Must Keep DACA Protections for Now, Judge Says”

by Joseph McKeown

On Tuesday, Judge William Alsup of the Federal District Court in San Francisco issued a nationwide injunction ordering the Trump administration to partially resume the DACA program. The judge said the Trump administration’s decision to discontinue the program was improper and wrote that the administration must “maintain the DACA program on a nationwide basis” as legal challenges go forward in court. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was set to end on March 5, 2018, and this week lawmakers and the Trump administration have been negotiating the program’s continuation. 

In his ruling, Judge Alsup said the decision to end the program was improper and that the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has the authority to grant the temporary protections that the DACA program provides. Current DACA program recipients, the judge ruled, must be allowed to renew their status, although the government will not be required to accept new DACA applications. Additionally, the judge said that the administration could continue to prevent DACA recipients from returning to the US after international travel.

Following the injunction, President Trump called the United States courts system “broken and unfair." In response to the judge’s ruling, the Department of Justice (DOJ) spokesman Devin O'Malley said that DHS "acted within its lawful authority in deciding to wind down DACA in an orderly manner" and said that the DOJ would “continue to vigorously defend this position, and looks forward to vindicating its position in further litigation."

While this is seemingly good news for DACA recipients, Dreamers cannot yet submit a DACA renewal application until after USCIS publishes a notice about the resumption of the program, and the implementation of the order may be stayed pending appeals, a process that could take months. Xavier Becerra, the California attorney general who filed one of the lawsuits seeking to block the administration from terminating the DACA program, said: “Today’s ruling is a huge step in the right direction.” But some immigration advocates are concerned that the ruling will distract from the efforts to push for a long-term solution by Congress. Karen Tumlin, legal director of the National Immigration Law Center, told CNN: "It is important to remember…this is temporary relief by a single federal district court judge” and “it should not take the pressure off of Congress to do the right thing and enact a permanent solution for these young people."