The Trump administration has certainly been aggressive in its immigration policies, but those policies haven’t fared so well in federal court. After a few circuit courts ruled against a few different version’s Trump’s proposed travel ban, the executive order barring entry from citizens of several Muslim-majority countries is now before the Supreme Court.
And that could be the destination for Trump’s attempted roll back of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) that protects individuals brought to the United States as children from deportation. A third federal court has ruled against the administration’s decision to end DACA, calling it “virtually unexplained” and therefore “unlawful.”
“Arbitrary and Capricious”
U.S. District Judge John D. Bates of the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that the Department of Homeland Security’s decision to phase out the Obama-era program “was arbitrary and capricious because the Department failed adequately to explain its conclusion that the program was unlawful.”
Judge Bates gave the Department 90 days to explain its reasoning behind the decision to end DACA. If it fails, the court will rescind the government memo that terminated the program and require Homeland Security to enroll new applicants, as well. “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,” Bates wrote, otherwise, DHS “must accept and process new as well as renewal DACA applications.”
DACA and Deportation
DACA currently covers an estimated 700,000 individuals, and the Washington Post reports DHS has renewed more than 55,000 work permits for immigrants enrolled in the program this year. DACA allows qualifying individuals — those who meet educational requirements and steer clear of criminal trouble — to get driver’s licenses, buy homes, qualify for in-state tuition (in some states), and attend college and graduate school.
Despite broad bipartisan support, both in Washington, D.C. and from the public, Congress has been unable to craft a plan for saving DACA. Perhaps, like Trump’s travel ban, it will eventually be up to the Supreme Court to decide.