A federal judge ruled Tuesday that an Obama-era program protecting certain young undocumented immigrants from deportation must remain in place, giving the Trump administration 90 days to restate its arguments for canceling the program before the order takes effect.
The decision by U.S. District Court Judge John D. Bates for the District of Columbia dealt the latest, and biggest, blow to efforts by President Donald Trump to do away with the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, an executive action that granted temporary deportation relief and work authorization in two-year increments to certain undocumented immigrants who were brought to the country as children. The ruling would require the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to accept applications from first-time applicants. Earlier this year, two nationwide injunctions compelled the administration to accept renewal applications from current DACA beneficiaries, but no new applications.
In his ruling, Bates said the administration’s reasoning in rescinding the program last September was “arbitrary and capricious” because it failed to “adequately explain its conclusion that the program was unlawful.”
Bates added that considering the hundreds of thousands of individuals reliant on DACA, the president’s decision was “particularly egregious.”
“Because DHS failed to even acknowledge how heavily DACA beneficiaries had come to rely on the expectation that they would be able to renew their DACA benefits, its barebones legal interpretation was doubly insufficient and cannot support DACA’s rescission,” Bates wrote.
In a statement, Homeland Security Spokesman Devin O’Malley said, according to CNN, that the agency “acted within its lawful authority in deciding to wind down DACA in an orderly manner … Promoting and enforcing the rule of law is vital to protecting a nation, its borders, and its citizens. The Justice Department will continue to vigorously defend this position, and looks forward to vindicating its position in further litigation.”
Since its inception in 2012, approximately 800,000 undocumented immigrants have signed up for the program. As of March 31, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services reported that more than 9,000 people with expired DACA status had renewal applications still pending.
As ThinkProgress previously reported, even those who have kept their statuses or are renewing their applications are at risk of deportation.