A federal judge in New York has ruled that the Trump administration cannot end the Obama-era program designed to protect from deportation young immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children.
The ruling by U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis in Brooklyn is the second court ruling blocking the administration's September order rescinding the program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. That program granted the right to work and stay in the U.S. without fear of deportation to about 700,000 young immigrants. The judge's decision follows a similar ruling by a federal court in San Francisco last month.
As NPR's Joel Rose reports, "Garaufis said the administration can rescind DACA. But the judge said the reasoning behind its decision was flawed. The Justice Department argues that DACA was an illegal overreach by the Obama White House, and was likely to be overturned in court."
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. He said President Trump's termination of DACA was "arbitrary and capricious."
Under the judge's order, the government is required to continue processing DACA renewal requests for people who already are enrolled in the program and those whose enrollment lapsed before Sept. 5, 2017. The ruling has no impact on young immigrants who never enrolled in DACA or those who had been rejected.
"Today's court ruling out of the district court in Brooklyn shows that courts from coast to coast have sent a single clear message to President Trump: The way that he terminated DACA was not just immoral, it was unlawful," said Karen Tumlin, legal director at the National Immigration Law Center.
A spokesman for the Justice Department, Devin O'Malley, said the administration will hold to its argument that DACA as implemented by the Obama administration was an "unlawful circumvention of Congress." He said that the courts will vindicate the administration's position that it acted properly in ending the program.
Tuesday's ruling comes as the fate of the DACA recipients is being debated in the Senate. 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.