In the latest blow to the Trump administration’s efforts to eliminate DACA, a federal judge in D.C. ordered on Friday that the administration must restart the program in full.
DACA, which stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, is a program started in the Obama era that offers deportation relief to undocumented immigrants who arrived in the country as children. It is estimated that more than 700,000 are enrolled in the program.
U.S. District Judge John Bates, who in April became the third federal judge to order the restart, issued his 25-page opinion on Friday, which rejected the argument that there were sound legal grounds for ending DACA. Bates is an appointee of President George W. Bush, and is one of many examples of conservatives who are choosing not to blindly follow Trump’s popular anti-immigration rhetoric.
On Friday, Bates stated that the order would be delayed until August 23, in order to allow the government to appeal. However, he denied the motion by the Justice Department to reconsider his prior decision, citing deficiencies in the rationale for the program’s end. Bates offered comments on the controversial June memo issued by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielson, where she stated that she stood by the legal rationale presented in a Sept. 5 directive from former acting Secretary Elaine Duke. Of Nielsen’s memo, Bates stated that it “offers nothing even remotely approaching a legal assessment that this court could subject to judicial review.”
In fact, if officials are not able to present adequate reasoning for its end, Bates threatened to fully restore the program. This means if Friday’s ruling goes into effect, the administration will be required to accept new applicants for the DACA program.
“The court has already once given DHS the opportunity to remedy these deficiencies — either by providing a coherent explanation of its legal opinion or by reissuing its decision for bona fide policy reasons that would preclude judicial review,” said Bates, “So it will not do so again.”