Court orders restoration of DACA program

Violet Powell
February 14, 2018

The latest ruling again orders the administration to process renewal applications from existing DACA recipients, but stops short of ordering the administration to accept new applications from individuals who hadn't been part of the program before. The judge's decision follows a similar ruling by a federal court in San Francisco last month.

At the core of the plaintiffs' case, brought by 17 state attorneys general and immigrants impacted by the administration's rescinding of the Obama-era program, is that the decision to end DACA was arbitrary and therefore illegal. If you are willing to accept the idea that the President can summon such a program into existence with the stroke of a pen rather than through the passage of new legislation by Congress, then you're on thin ice saying that a subsequent president can't modify or terminate the program in the same way.

Since the September announcement, the US Department of Homeland Security has stopped accepting new applications.

The injunction does not apply to those who submitted their DACA paperwork after September 5th and the does not have to accept new applications after March 5th and can decide renewals on a case-by-case basis.

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In a preliminary ruling, he ordered the government to keep processing DACA applications and renewal requests, echoing the January 9 ruling of a judge in San Francisco. They said it was more humane to do a six-month phaseout than to have a court end the program abruptly. "The Executive Branch has wide discretion not to initiate or pursue specific enforcement actions".

Garaufis, however, said the government was "erroneous" in its conclusion that DACA was unconstitutional and that it violated the Administrative Procedures and Immigration and Nationality acts. If Congress doesn't come up with an agreement to preserve the program, the administration has said, it doesn't expect to extend the March 5 deadline for DACA protections to expire. Despite acknowledging the court's own sympathies towards those who were unable to apply for the program before then, "it can not say that plaintiffs have demonstrated either that these individuals would be irreparably harmed without injunctive relief or that the balance of equities favors these individuals to the same extent it favors existing DACA beneficiaries".

Judge Nicholas Garaufis, the Clinton appointee who issued a preliminary order today blocking President Trump's plan to phase out DACA, has a history of letting his personal beliefs impair his ability as an impartial jurist, a pattern that once prompted a higher court to remove him from a prominent discrimination trial involving the New York City Fire Department. DAPA would have provided similar protections from deportation to the undocumented parents of United States citizens and legal permanent residents. "As such, it was an unlawful circumvention of Congress", the Justice Department said in a statement.

"The federal government took the unusual step of seeking an immediate appeal to the supreme court and this Friday we will know if it accepts it or not", said the lawyer.

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