A California federal judge has issued an injunction forcing the Trump administration to restart the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an immigration program by Barack Obama enacted through an executive action that protects undocumented immigrants who arrived in America as minors.
Judge William Alsup of the Federal District Court in San Francisco’s argued that the administration was remiss in ending the program, writing that government should instead “maintain the DACA program on a nationwide basis” while a lawsuit challenging the decision is still in progress.
DACA defers deportation for undocumented immigrants who entered the country as children. Under the program, DACA beneficiaries, also known as DREAMers (after a defunct immigration program upon which DACA was fashioned), are allowed to file for temporary work permits and driver’s licenses, allowing them to lead normal lives and contribute to American society.
According to government stats, there are more than 690,000 DREAMers in the country.
President Trump has openly criticized DACA throughout the campaign trail, slamming then-President Obama for exceeding the powers of his office by creating an “unconstitutional” immigration program. Upon taking office, Trump vowed that DREAMers should “rest easy” about his immigration policies.
But in September 2017, the White House, through Attorney General Jeff Sessions, announced that it would be terminating DACA and give Congress six months to come up with bipartisan legislation to take its place.
Immigration rights advocates were quick to condemn President Trump’s move to end the program. Not long after, legal challenges sprung up in courts across the country against a decision that, according to the plaintiffs, was arbitrary and did not follow proper legal procedures.
Judge Alsup rebutted Trump’s assertion that the previous administration lacked the legal authority to create DACA, pointing out that the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security has always been able to create and implement the foundations for such immigration programs.
The federal judge, however, assured the administration that while the issued injunction compels them to allow DACA recipients to be able to renew their immigration status under the program, they would not be required to accept any new DACA enrollees.
But the Justice Department stood firm in its decision despite Judge Alsup’s ruling, with spokesperson Devin O’Malley saying that “The Department of Homeland Security … acted within its lawful authority in deciding to wind down DACA in an orderly manner. Promoting and enforcing the rule of law is vital to protecting a nation, its borders, and its citizens.”
Camille Mackler, the New York Immigration Coalition’s Director of Immigration Legal Policy, warns against viewing Judge Alsup’s ruling as a decisive victory. She insists that while the ruling may offer some temporary relief to the issue, a proper replacement of DACA would be needed to protect the program’s recipients.
“What we really need is a clean Dream Act,” she said.
If you, or a loved one, are a DACA recipient concerned about your immigration status, schedule a consultation with the legal team of the Lyttle Law Firm to learn about your constitutional rights. Call our offices today to talk to immigration attorney Daniella Lyttle.