A federal judge in Washington D.C. has ordered the government to continue the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and allow new applicants to apply, calling the Trump administration’s decision to rescind the program for the hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children “virtually unexplained” and “unlawful." In his decision, US District Judge John D. Bates writes that the Trump administration's decision “was arbitrary and capricious because the Department failed adequately to explain its conclusion that the program was unlawful" and that "each day that the agency delays is a day that aliens who might otherwise be eligible for initial grants of DACA benefits are exposed to removal because of an unlawful agency action.” Even so, Judge Bates has stayed his ruling for ninety days to give the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) time to provide a more detailed reason for ending the program; otherwise, the judge will rescind the memo that ended the DACA program and allow for new applicants.
Judge Bates is now the third judge to rule against the Trump administration’s decision to rescind the DACA program. In January, a federal judge in San Francisco issued a nationwide injunction, ordering that DACA recipients be allowed to renew their legal status under the DACA program, a decision that partially restored the DACA program. The following month, a federal judge in Brooklyn decided in favor of attorney generals from fifteen states who sued the Trump administration in order to block the rollback of the program. While both of these decisions arguably helped thousands of DACA recipients maintain their status and safeguard against their removal from the US, neither of them offered protection for potentially thousands of new applicants who would be eligible to enroll in the program.
The Trump administration decided to rescind the DACA program on their belief that the program would not survive a court challenge. The Justice Department cited the similar Obama-era program designed to offer protection for immigrant parents that failed to survive a court challenge. In a statement, the Justice Department says that ending DACA was also part of its efforts to protect the nation’s border and enforce its rule of law. Devin O’Malley, a spokesman for the Department of Justice, issued a statement responding to Judge Bates’ ruling saying: “Today’s order doesn’t change the Department of Justice’s position on the facts: DACA was implemented unilaterally after Congress declined to extend benefits to this same group of illegal aliens. The Justice Department will continue to vigorously defend this position."
Christopher L. Eisgruber, university president of Princeton, one of the organizations who brought the suit, says: “While the decision does not fully resolve the uncertainty facing DACA beneficiaries, it unequivocally rejects the rationale the government has offered for ending the program and makes clear that the DHS acted arbitrarily and capriciously.” Hasan Shafiqullah, director of the immigration law unit of the Legal Aid Society of New York, says that this most recent decision offers hope for the younger siblings of DACA recipients who were previously ineligible to apply because they were too young. Shafiqullah believes that if they are once again able to submit their applications they will “at least be able to come out of the shadows, register for DACA, and—like their older siblings—more fully integrate into the fabric of our society.”
Brad Smith, president of Microsoft, which was also part of the lawsuit, tells the Washington Post. “We hope this decision will help provide a new incentive for a legislative solution the country and these individuals so clearly deserve. As the business community has come to appreciate, a lasting solution for the country’s dreamers is both an economic imperative and a humanitarian necessity.”