Another Federal Judge Strikes Down Trump Administration’s End to DACA
Another Democrat-appointed federal judge ruled on Tuesday that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) violated federal law when it canceled the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) amnesty, although this decision will not have any lasting impact because the Supreme Court is certain to take up the controversy in the coming days.
President Obama announced DACA in 2012. Janet Napolitano, DHS secretary at the time, wrote a memorandum, including criteria that would grant temporary relief from deportation for 800,000 illegal aliens. Then in 2015, the Obama administration introduced a larger program called Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA), granting indefinite legal status to four million illegal aliens.
Two dozen states sued the Obama administration, arguing that DAPA was illegal unless Congress does it by passing a law. A federal judge in Texas agreed, striking down DAPA. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit agreed that DAPA was illegal. Then, the Supreme Court tied 4-4 on the issue after Justice Antonin Scalia passed away.
Once President Donald Trump took office, Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a legal opinion that the same reasons the federal courts struck down DAPA meant that the earlier DACA was also illegal.
Acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke shut down DACA, relying upon Sessions’ analysis. When Kirstjen Nielsen took office, she stood firmly on Sessions’ analysis, declaring that her oath was to follow the Constitution and that DACA must end because it is unconstitutional.
Several lawsuits have been filed against the DHS and the rest of the Trump administration, arguing that although Obama created DACA unilaterally by executive fiat, President Trump’s decision to end DACA in the same manner is somehow illegal.
Five of those legal challenges were filed in California. Judge William Alsup from a federal district court in that state, appointed by Democratic President Bill Clinton, agreed, ordering the Trump administration to reinstate DACA.
Two other legal challenges were filed in New York, going before another judge appointed by Clinton. On Tuesday, Judge Nicholas Garaufis of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York likewise struck down DHS’s move.
The trial court held that Sessions’ conclusion about the legality of DACA was wrong and that Duke and Nielsen’s decision to end DACA violates the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). The court issued a preliminary injunction ordering the reinstatement of DACA while this litigation is ongoing.
The New York judge’s decision is likely irrelevant, however. The Supreme Court will vote this Friday, February 16, whether to take up the California decision on DACA. The justices are almost certain to do so and hear the case on an expedited basis, meaning that a final decision on the matter is expected by the end of June.
The cases are Vidal v. Nielsen and New York v. Trump, Nos. 16-cv-4756 and 17-cv-5228 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.
Ken Klukowski is senior legal editor for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @kenklukowski.