A federal judge on Friday said the government must restart the entire DACA deportation amnesty, including accepting brand new applications — but gave the administration a chance to appeal before his ruling takes effect.
The ruling by Judge John D. Bates is a major blow to President Trump, and creates even more confusion about his immigration policy.
Judge Bates said Mr. Trump and his Homeland Security Department do have the power to revoke the Obama-era DACA program, but they cut too many corners in the way they tried to do it.
He said the government needs to prove that it has considered the benefits to society of having illegal immigrants here and working, versus the government’s interest in enforcing the laws as written. He said Homeland Security failed to do that in its original revocation last September, and even after he gave it a chance to update its reasoning, it still failed to convince him.
“The court sees no reason to change its earlier determination that DACA’s rescission was arbitrary and capricious,” he ruled.
Other courts had already put the revocation on hold and ordered the government to renew applications of some 700,000 people who already had DACA status and who reapplied.
But those courts had declined to restart the program in full, meaning brand new applications.
Judge Bates’ order would do that.
He did stay his own order for 20 days to give the government a chance to appeal. The government is already appealing the other judges’ orders, and it’s likely they do so in this case as well — potentially speeding the case toward an eventual date with the Supreme Court.
DACA protects young adult illegal immigrants from deportation and grants them work permits, giving them access to jobs, driver’s licenses and some taxpayer benefits.
The Obama administration cut corners when it announced the program in 2012 — but some judges have said that the previous administration’s behavior is not a justification for the new administration to also cut corners.
Indeed, that corner-cutting has become a major hindrance for Mr. Trump, who has seen judges use the same grounds to question much of his immigration policy, environmental regulation rollbacks and Obamacare decisions.
DACA may be the most politically charged of those, however.
The issue led Democrats to shut down the government earlier this year, and attempts to pass immigration reforms that would grant full legal status to illegal immigrant “Dreamers” covered by DACA have failed in both the House and Senate this year.