Immigration Law

Judge blocks DACA rescission; White House calls decision 'outrageous'

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A federal judge in San Francisco has issued a nationwide injunction that temporarily blocks the phase-out of a program protecting immigrants brought to the country illegally as minors.

The preliminary injunction (PDF) issued Tuesday by U.S. District Judge William Alsup remains in effect during litigation in five consolidated lawsuits that challenge the government’s decision to wind down the program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

The 2012 program deferred deportation for the immigrants and allowed them to obtain work permits. The Justice Department had contended the program must end because its creation had circumvented Congress.

Alsup said immigrants protected by the program must be allowed to renew their enrollments while the lawsuits are pending, but new applications can be set aside. The Washington Post (in stories here and here), Reuters and Politico have coverage.

White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the judge’s decision was “outrageous” and any decision on the program should be left to Congress.

“An issue of this magnitude must go through the normal legislative process,” she said. “President Trump is committed to the rule of law, and will work with members of both parties to reach a permanent solution that corrects the unconstitutional actions taken by the last administration.”

Trump also weighed in on Twitter, the Recorder reports. “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,” he wrote.

The judge’s decision came the same day the president met with lawmakers to discuss a legislative renewal for the program.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the plaintiffs on an issue in the litigation last month when it said Alsup acted too soon in ordering document disclosure. The Supreme Court said Alsup should have ruled first on the federal government’s claim that the courts have no jurisdiction to review its decision to end the program.

Alsup ruled on Tuesday that he had the authority to review the decision and most of the plaintiffs had standing to sue.

The plaintiffs claimed the wind-down of the program was an arbitrary and capricious decision that violated the Administrative Procedure Act, was a deprivation of property and liberty interests in violation of due process, and was motivated by discriminatory animus in violation of equal protection.

Alsup ruled that the rescission of DACA was based on a flawed legal premise that the Department of Homeland Security lacked authority to create the program. As a result, the plaintiffs are likely to succeed on the merits of their claim that the DACA wind-down decision was arbitrary and capricious, Alsup said.

“This order holds that DACA fell within the agency’s enforcement authority,” he wrote. “The contrary conclusion was flawed and should be set aside.”

Alsup noted that Trump had stated his support for DACA in a September tweet that read: “Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military? Really!”

“For the reasons DACA was instituted,” Alsup wrote, “and for the reasons tweeted by President Trump, this order finds that the public interest will be served by DACA’s continuation” during the litigation.

Updated on Jan. 11 to include Trump’s tweet.

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