A second federal judge said the government must continue to process certain applications for “dreamers,” less than three weeks before the Trump administration set a deadline to end the DACA program.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was set to end March 5, after the Trump administration said Obama-era protections for children of illegal immigrants were an overreach of executive authority.
But that fast-approaching March deadline appears to be up in the air – for now.
Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis of the Eastern District of New York ruled the Trump administration improperly ended the DACA program.
“The question before the court is thus not whether [White House officials] could end the DACA program, but whether they offered legally adequate reasons for doing so,” Judge Garaufis wrote.
“Based on its review of the record before it, the court concludes that [Trump officials] have not done so.”
The decision stops the Trump administration from ending DACA for now, but Justice Department lawyers are already appealing a similar January ruling from a federal judge in San Francisco.
U.S. Supreme Court justices will conference later this week, discussing whether to hear the Trump and Justice Department appeal of the California case on an expedited basis.
“Today’s order doesn’t change the Department of Justice’s position on the facts: DACA was implemented unilaterally after Congress declined to extend these benefits to this same group of illegal aliens,” said DOJ spokesman Devin O’Malley.
“The Department of Homeland Security therefore acted within its lawful authority in deciding to wind down DACA in an orderly manner.”
The most recent ruling, however, does not force the government to accept new DACA applications. It only forces the Department of Homeland Security to process pending and renewal DACA applications.
A legislative fix to grant citizenship to 1.8 million dreamers remained elusive Wednesday, with President Trump endorsing a plan proposed by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), as a second group of bipartisan senators proposed a compromise that leaves out key White House demands.