A federal judge denied a petition by the Trump administration to pause the multiple lawsuits filed against the federal government for ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an executive order implemented during the Obama administration that grants temporary removal protection to undocumented immigrants who entered the United States as children.
After the Trump administration announced that it would be ending DACA, the state of California, the city of San Jose, Santa Clara County, the University of California, and a group of DACA recipients promptly sued the federal government and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), blocking the reversal of the program.
The government moved for a stay of proceedings, to which U.S. District Judge William Alsup responded by denying their request, noting that pausing the proceedings as the March 5 deadline of the program looms closer would jeopardize the future of the more than 800,000 immigrants under DACA status.
Established in 2012, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) allows certain immigrants who entered the United States as children to apply for temporary deferred action from deportation every two years. Aside from granting protection against removal, DACA also allows recipients to apply for driver’s licenses and renewable work permits, helping them make a contribution to society.
In an interview with TIME in 2016, Donald Trump promised that DREAMers, or immigrants under DACA status, “should rest easy” under his administration. But last month, the Trump Administration, through Attorney General Jeff Sessions, announced that it would be rescinding the Obama executive order. The White House, however, placed a 6-month delay for the end of DACA to take effect, giving Congress time to pass legislation that would protect the DREAMers in its place.
What Alsup’s Ruling Means for DREAMers
According to Judge Alsup’s ruling, the court expects to arrive at a decision well before March 5 deadline, giving the court of appeals enough time to review any decisions. A stay of proceedings, he reasoned, would run the risk of allowing the deadline to pass without a decision on the merits of the plaintiff’s lawsuits. This, in turn, posed a significant threat to the future of DACA enrollees.
Alsup also sided with the plaintiffs’ claim that the decision to end DACA was illegal under the Administrative Procedure Act (adding that the administration must release the documents the DHS used as the basis for canceling the program). The judge ordered the production of materials that acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke indirectly and directly used to make the decision to end DACA.
Duke only submitted the documents she personally considered to be relevant to the decision to end DACA. However, the plaintiffs found that these were suspiciously insufficient and demanded that even those “indirectly” relevant to the decision – especially those that Homeland Security and Justice departments’ employees had access to – also be produced.
The government has yet to comment on the decision.
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.