A federal judge in Washington, D.C. ruled Friday afternoon that President Donald Trump must fully restore the Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals program, known colloquially as DACA.
In a 25-page opinion, U.S. District Judge John Bates, a George W. Bush appointee, ruled that the government’s rationale for ending the program is “inadequate, “arbitrary,” and “capricious” with legal judgment that was “inadequately explained.”
The DACA program, which was put into place by Obama administration, protects immigrants who came to the United States as children from deportation.
Bates explained that if the Trump administration wants to fully rescind the program or take any other action, it must actually “give a rational explanation for its decision.” In other words, the administration can’t just end the program because it wants to.
“A conclusory assertion that a prior policy is illegal, accompanied by a hodgepodge of illogical or post hoc policy assertions, simply will not do,” Bates wrote.
This is the third such mandate from a federal district court since the administration announced it would end the program in September 2017. Earlier in the year, Bates called the administration’s justification for ending the program “particularly egregious.” In January, two nationwide injunctions compelled the administration to accept renewal applications from current DACA beneficiaries, but no new applications.
The restart of the DACA program won’t begin immediately; Bates has ordered a start date of August 23. In the meantime, the government can appeal the ruling.
Currently 800,000 individuals are enrolled in DACA, which granted temporary deportation relief and work authorization in two-year increments to certain undocumented immigrants who were brought to the country as children. DACA does not provide a path to citizenship.
The federal court decision comes as President Trump is facing tough criticism for his hardline stance on immigration. While he signed an executive order reversing his own “zero tolerance” policy at the border, hundreds of families remain separated. Earlier this week, Trump threatened a government shutdown if he doesn’t secure funding for his wall along southern border of the U.S.