A federal judge on Tuesday granted a request by the state of California and other plaintiffs to temporarily block President Trump’s decision to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, an Obama-era policy that protects young immigrants from deportation.
US District Judge William Alsup insists DACA recipients are “likely to suffer serious, irreparable harm” if Trump’s decision is allowed to take effect and argues the decision to end the program was “based on a flawed legal premise." Alsup’s ruling orders the White House to allow DACA recipients to renew their applications, but does not allow any new applicants.
Alsup's ruling comes after he considered five separate lawsuits filed in California and three other states. The lawsuits have a good chance of succeeding, says Alsup.
“DACA covers a class of immigrants whose presence, seemingly all agree, pose the least, if any, threat and allows them to sign up for honest labor on the condition of continued good behavior,” wrote Alsup. “This has become an important program for DACA recipients and their families, for the employers who hire them, for our tax treasuries, and for our economy.”
The Trump Administration argues that former President Barack Obama overstepped his authority when he used executive action to implement DACA in 2012.
“DACA was implemented unilaterally after Congress declined to extend these benefits to this same group of illegal aliens,” says Department of Justice spokesman Devin O’Malley. “The Justice Department will continue to vigorously defend this position, and looks forward to vindicating its position in further litigation.”
In September, AG Jeff Sessions announced the program would be phased out.
California attorney Jeffrey Davidson insists the effects of ending the program will be “horrific” for recipients who made important life decisions based on DACA. “The government considered none of this at all when they decided to rescind DACA,” argues Davidson.
One of the five lawsuits comes from Janet Napolitano, the former Homeland Security Secretary who essentially created DACA. Today, she serves as President of the University of California school system.
“UC’s DACA students represent the very best of our country and are a key part of California and our nation’s future,” the university said in a statement after the hearing. According to the statement, the school will persist with its legal challenges and seek permanent protection for DACA recipients.
President Trump tweeted his displeasure with Alsup’s ruling on Wednesday: “It just shows everyone how broken and unfair our Court System is when the opposing side in a case always runs to the 9th Circuit and almost always wins before being reversed by higher courts.”
Author’s Note: Alsup is a Clinton appointee, and his decision comes as no surprise. Federal courts – California in particular – have fought nearly all of Trump’s policies on immigration, refugee admissions, and sanctuary cities.
Trump is busy appointing conservative judges, but there are still plenty of bad ones out there. The lawsuit will eventually reach the Supreme Court, where Trump’s decision on DACA (like the travel ban) will inevitably be deemed legal.