Temporary Block to Ending DACA

BY Kerrie Spencer

DACA protests


"The government is hereby ordered and enjoined, pending final judgment herein or other order, to maintain the DACA program on a nationwide basis on the same terms and conditions as were in effect before the rescission.” U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Francisco District Judge William Alsup.

The Trump administration has been temporarily banned from ending DACA – a program intended to protect nearly 800,000 young people (dubbed Dreamers), who were illegally brought to the U.S. by their parents, from being deported. This is not the first ruling by U.S. judges against questionable immigration policies.

San Francisco District Judge William Alsup ruled that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) must stay in place until current litigation is resolved.

DACA has been subject to multiple legal challenges in federal courts by various organizations, individuals and Democratic state attorneys general. However, resolving the current situation may be difficult, as DACA and other ongoing immigration reform negotiations being carried out by the White House are less than certain to reach any conclusion anytime soon.

It is important to note that the judge chose a nationwide injunction because the United States “has a strong interest in the uniform application of immigration law and policy." Alsup’s ruling only applies to those Dreamers seeking renewal applications under DACA. The government is not obligated to process new applications. Of note is also the judge’s comment “DACA gave them a more tolerable set of choices, including joining the mainstream workforce.” “Now, absent an injunction, they will slide back to the pre-DACA era and associated hardship.”

The learned judge also indicated that the plaintiffs in the case were quite likely to be successful arguing that the government’s move in September to abruptly end DACA before March 5, 2018, was based on a flawed legal premise and must be set aside under the federal Administrative Procedures Act. The program’s termination also reached the boundaries the Northern District of California, affecting every state and territory of the United States.

This ruling comes ahead of the possibility of a government shutdown driven by Trump and U.S. congressional leaders attempting to find common ground to retain DACA and address other immigration reform matters. The Democrats have repeatedly suggested they intend to block any legislation that has funding for the border wall. Trump insists the legislation must have funding in it for the border wall.

According to multiple media reports, DACA may be held hostage to Trump’s demands to build a wall between Mexico and the United States. Trump has been quoted as saying he would go for a two-step deal, with step one focusing on protecting Dreamers from being deported, so long as it includes funding for the wall, and other previously discussed and not agreed upon restrictions, such as chain immigration. Step two would allegedly focus on some kind of pathway to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants – a topic that has been fiercely debated for many, many years, with no resolution.

The ruling did not go without being subjected to criticism from President Trump, who tweeted on January 10, 2018: "It just shows everyone how broken and unfair our court system is when the opposing side in a case (such as DACA) always runs to the 9th Circuit and almost always wins before being reversed by higher courts.”

Trump’s tweet was also followed by an oxymoron tweet from the executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, who publicly supports lowering immigration, stating the ruling was a result of “our lawless judiciary.” And the Department of Justice said they intended to appeal the ruling because the implementation of the program by the Obama administration was an illegal circumvention of Congress.

Despite this favorable court ruling, the upshot of this situation, the uncertainty about terminating the program and what appears to be fulminating racism on the part of the White House, is that DACA recipients are in a petrified limbo. Furthermore, there is the January 19, 2018 deadline for government funding including DACA. Many speculate that the result of two opposing positions may result in a government shutdown. In the meantime, congressional leaders from both parties and the president are still attempting to hammer out a bipartisan deal.

Kerrie Spencer

Kerrie Spencer is a staff contributor to Bigger Law Firm Magazine.


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