Trump Must Keep DACA Protections for Now, Judge Says
(Jan. 9, 2018) WASHINGTON — In the middle of an intense political fight about the program that shields from deportation young immigrants who were brought illegally to the United States as children, a federal judge in California issued a nationwide injunction late Tuesday ordering the Trump administration to start the program back up again.
Saying the decision to kill it was improper, Judge William Alsup of Federal District Court in San Francisco wrote that the administration must “maintain the DACA program on a nationwide basis” as the legal challenge to the president’s decision goes forward.
President Barack Obama created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA, in 2012 to also give young immigrants the ability to work legally in the United States. President Trump moved to end the program in September, saying that Mr. Obama’s actions were unconstitutional and an overreach of executive power.
That decision has set off a fierce debate in Washington as Democrats and Republicans spar about how to provide relief for about 800,000 immigrants who could face deportation when the program ends on March 5. Mr. Trump met with lawmakers on Tuesday afternoon in a remarkable, hourlong televised meeting to begin negotiations.
But critics of the president’s decision to end the policy, including several states and organizations, had already sued the administration, saying that shutting down the program was arbitrary and done without following the proper legal procedures.
One of the lead plaintiffs in the case, Janet Napolitano, is currently the president of the sprawling University of California system of colleges but served as the secretary of homeland security for Mr. Obama in 2012 and was an architect of the DACA program.
In his ruling, Judge Alsup questioned the administration’s contention that the DACA program had not been put into place legally. He asserted that the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security has long had the authority to grant the kind of temporary protections that formed the basis of the program.
Judge Alsup also cited several of Mr. Trump’s Twitter posts that expressed support for the program. He noted that in September, the president wrote: “Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military? Really!” Such tweets, the judge said, bolstered the idea that keeping the program going was in the public’s interest.
The judge wrote that previous beneficiaries of DACA, known as Dreamers, must be allowed to renew their status in the program, though the government will not be required to accept new applications from immigrants who had not previously submitted one. The judge also said the administration could continue to prevent DACA recipients from returning to the United States if they leave the country.
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