While the Trump administration aims to end deportation protections for young undocumented immigrants under DACA, a D.C. federal judge ordered the government to continue the Obama-era program and reopen it to new applicants. The decision was issued last Tuesday evening by U.S. District Judge John Bates, a George W. Bush appointee in Washington D.C.
Bates is the third judge to rule against the Trump administration's attempts to terminate the program, which offers two-year, renewable work permits and deportation protections for nearly 700,000 dreamers. He said the cancellation of DACA was “arbitrary and capricious” since the Trump administration failed to properly explain its conclusion that the program was unlawful.
“Each day that the agency delays is a day that aliens who might otherwise be eligible for initial grants of DACA benefits are exposed to removal because of an unlawful agency action,” explained Bates.
However, Bates postponed the effect of his ruling for 90 days to give the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) a chance to provide better reasoning for its decision to cancel the program. If the government does not offer a better explanation within that time period, he will rescind the government memo which canceled the program, and he will require DHS to enroll new applicants. Thousands are estimated to be eligible for DACA.
Federal judges in Brooklyn and in San Francisco each issued injunctions that ordered the program to remain in place. But neither of those decisions made it mandatory for the government to accept new applications.
So far this year, the government has renewed over 55,000 work permits for immigrants enrolled in the program, as the courts required. Immigrants must be 15 years of age to apply for the DACA program.