Judge Orders Trump to Let DACA Applications Continue

A Clinton-appointed federal jurist on the West Coast — where else? — strikes again, reinstating the controversial program for now

A federal judge in San Francisco blocked President Donald Trump late Tuesday from rescinding a temporary amnesty program created by an executive order signed by his predecessor for illegal immigrants who were brought here as children.

U.S. Judge William Alsup, a 1999 appointee of former President Bill Clinton to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, halted Trump’s revocation of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The temporary amnesty program resulted from Obama’s executive order in 2012, and Trump rescinded it in September 2017.

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The temporary amnesty program provided at least 650,000 adults, brought to the United States illegally as children, with protected status for two years. DACA recipients have to renew every two years, per the executive order’s rules. The renewals will begin to stop in March, the month by which Trump gave Congress a deadline to pass a law protecting DACA recipients, often called dreamers — a reference to the Obama administration’s Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act.

The order does not require Trump and the executive branch to issue new protections, only to process reapplications from dreamers.

Trump had just finished a public negotiating session with congressional leaders, Democrats and Republicans, on Tuesday afternoon in the White House before Alsup delivered his order.

Trump allowed media to cover the one-hour brainstorming session, at which Trump said he was open to “comprehensive” immigration reform at a later date. For now, compromising on DACA remains part of a deal Trump would like to make with Democrats.

In exchange, Trump would like more border security, including funding for construction on a new wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, along with an end to chain migration and the diversity lottery for green cards.

Such a deal now seems threatened by Alsup’s order, even though Trump and the U.S. Department of Justice are sure to appeal immediately to a higher court.

Justice Department spokesman Devin O’Malley said the order on DACA is a violation of congressional authority to make immigration law.

“Tonight’s order doesn’t change the Department of Justice’s position on the facts: DACA was implemented unilaterally after Congress declined to extend these benefits to this same group of illegal aliens,” O’Malley said in a Tuesday night statement. “As such, it was an unlawful circumvention of Congress, and was susceptible to the same legal challenges that effectively ended DAPA.”

Obama had also ordered a Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA), illegal immigrants whose children are U.S. citizens. The DAPA order fell quickly in court challenges.

The plaintiffs in the DACA suit included, among others, attorneys general from California, Maine, Maryland and Minnesota, along with the University of California, according to Fox News.

Obama had also ordered a Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA), illegal immigrants whose children are U.S. citizens. The DAPA order fell quickly in court challenges.

Alsup said he ordered the applications to resume nationally as the plaintiffs have a reasonable chance of prevailing in higher courts. But that was also the reasoning behind suspending Trump’s travel ban from a year ago. Trump’s restrictions on travel from several Muslim-majority nations were eventually upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Alsup’s decision brought some mockery on social media, with Daily Mail political editor David Martosko noting the judge was forcing the executive branch to uphold an executive order that is likely unconstitutional.

“Can some lawyer out there explain how the federal judiciary can order the executive branch not to write a new memo rescinding a previous memo, neither of which is based on something the legislative branch passed?” Martosko tweeted.

Trump also derided the decision, noting the district court is in the most liberal federal appellate district in the nation, the West Coast’s 9th Circuit.

“It just shows everyone how broken and unfair our Court System is when the opposing side in a case (such as DACA) always runs to the 9th Circuit and almost always wins before being reversed by higher courts,” Trump tweeted Wednesday.

Alsup ordered the White House when he took up the case last year to turn over more documents on how Trump and staff came to the decision to end the executive order on DACA.

The U.S. Supreme Court overrode Alsup in a narrow 5-to-4 decision on December 8.

PoliZette White House writer Jim Stinson can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter.

(photo credit, homepage images: Ninth Circuit, CC BY-SA 2.0, by Ken Lund / Donald Trump, Cut Out, CC BY 2.0, by Michael Vadon / DACA Protest, Cut Out, CC BY 2.0, by Molly Adams; photo credit, article images: 9th U.S. Circuit Court, CC BY-SA 4.0, by Sanfranman59 / DACA Protest, Cut out, CC BY 2.0, by Molly Adams)

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Political reporter, LifeZette. Indiana University journalism grad. Boston U. business grad. Former Indiana, Alabama statehouse reporter, Daytona Beach editorial writer.