While Congress continues to try to find an acceptable solution for “Dreamers,” a federal judge in San Francisco has ruled that DACA must remain in place while litigation over President Donald Trump’s decision to wind down the program is pending. Judge William Alsup issued a nationwide injunction directing the Trump Administration to re-start the program. This means that any DACA recipients who were unable to submit status renewal applications by last fall’s deadline should have that opportunity now.
The case, one of several similar suits currently pending, was brought by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and joined by others, including universities and the Attorneys General for Maine, Maryland, and Minnesota. Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Homeland Security when the Obama Administration instituted the DACA program and current President of University of California system, is one of the lead plaintiffs in the case. Becerra vowed to fight for the Dreamers “at every turn for their rights and opportunities so they may continue to contribute to America.” Judge Alsup’s nationwide injunction is at least an initial victory for DACA proponents.
The court found the plaintiffs would suffer irreparable harm if DACA is terminated in March 2018, before litigation over the rescission is resolved. On the merits, Judge Alsup doubted whether DACA was put in place illegally, because DHS has the authority to grant temporary protections from deportation. In support of his decision, Judge Alsup referenced some of Trump’s recent tweets. He stated that the program’s benefits were summed up by Trump’s tweet saying, “Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military? Really!”
Devin O’Malley, a Justice Department spokesman, said the Department “will continue to vigorously defend [President Trump’s rescission] . . . and looks forward to vindicating its position in further litigation.”
Judge Alsup’s order does not require the government to accept new DACA applications. The government could still prevent DACA recipients from returning to the United States after travel abroad.