A third U.S. federal judge rules that DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) must stay, for now.
Judge John D. Bates of the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia agreed with previous court rulings that the Donald Trump administration’s fight to end DACA was "arbitrary and capricious," saying that the government’s legal reasoning to terminate the program was “virtually unexplained.”
Bates went beyond the previous two rulings that have taken place over the past several months mandating that the government must not only process renewal applications from the nearly 700,000 existing DACA recipients but "must accept and process new ... DACA applications."
DACA, implemented by former president Barack Obama in 2012, allows those who arrived in the United States as minors before 2007 to stay in the country to work, but doesn’t provide a path to citizenship. Participants must renew their status every two years.
The government had hoped to stop taking renewals by March 5 - the date the Trump gave in September to eliminate DACA. The president’s plans were foiled when the Supreme Court decided - days before the March 5 deadline - to not directly hear the case but let it move up through the lower courts first. The court ruled that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) need to keep accepting renewals while the case was being deliberated.
Judge Bates throughout the administration’s argument that DACA needed to end based on supposed threats from conservative state attorney generals to sue the federal government if the program wasn't dismantled.
"The ... prediction regarding the outcome of threatened litigation over DACA’s validity – specifically, that the district court in the Texas litigation would immediately halt the program, without any opportunity for a wind-down – was so implausible that it fails even under the deferential arbitrary and capricious standard. DACA’s rescission will, therefore, be set aside," Bates wrote in his 60-page ruling.
Today’s ruling permits the DHS 90 days to provide better legal proof that the program is unconstitutional, otherwise, it will be fully restored.
"This decision verifies the Trump administration failed to prove the DACA program is illegal," said Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, a Washington, D.C. advocacy organization.