Ap­peals court rules against Trump on DACA

Merced Sun-Star - - Front Page - BY SUDHIN THANAWALA

A U.S. ap­peals court blocked Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on Thurs­day from im­me­di­ately end­ing an Obama-era pro­gram shield­ing young im­mi­grants from de­por­ta­tion, say­ing the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s de­ci­sion to phase it out was ar­bi­trary be­cause it was based on a flawed le­gal the­ory.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Cir­cuit Court of Ap­peals unan­i­mously kept a pre­lim­i­nary in­junc­tion in place against Trump’s de­ci­sion to end the De­ferred Ac­tion for Child­hood Ar­rivals pro­gram.

Law­suits by Cal­i­for­nia and oth­ers chal­leng­ing the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s de­ci­sion will con­tinue in fed­eral court while the in­junc­tion stands.

The U.S. Supreme Court could even­tu­ally de­cide the fate of DACA, which has pro­tected some 700,000 peo­ple who were brought to the U.S. il­le­gally as chil­dren or came with fam­i­lies that over­stayed visas.

In Thurs­day’s rul­ing, 9th Cir­cuit Judge Kim Ward­law said Cal­i­for­nia and other plain­tiffs were likely to suc­ceed with their claim that the de­ci­sion to end DACA was ar­bi­trary and capri­cious.

She said the court was not try­ing to in­fringe on the pres­i­dent’s power to en­force im­mi­gra­tion law but wanted to en­able the ex­er­cise of that au­thor­ity “in a man­ner that is free from le­gal mis­con­cep­tions and is demo­crat­i­cally ac­count­able to the pub­lic.”

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has said it moved to end the pro­gram last year be­cause Texas and other states threat­ened to sue, rais­ing the prospect of a chaotic end to DACA. The ad­min­is­tra­tion cited a 2015 rul­ing by an­other U.S. ap­peals court that blocked a sep­a­rate im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy im­ple­mented by Pres­i­dent Barack Obama.

The 9th Cir­cuit dis­agreed

with the New Or­leans­based 5th U.S. Cir­cuit Court of Ap­peals and said one of its con­clu­sions did not ap­ply to DACA.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion’s be­lief that DACA ex­ceeded Obama’s au­thor­ity and was il­le­gal was there­fore “in­cor­rect,” the court said.

An email to the U.S. De­part­ment of Jus­tice was not im­me­di­ately re­turned.

Trump’s de­ci­sion to end DACA prompted law­suits across the na­tion, in­clud­ing one by Cal­i­for­nia. A judge over­see­ing that law­suit and four oth­ers ruled against the ad­min­is­tra­tion and re­in­stated the pro­gram in Jan­uary.

U.S. District Judge Wil­liam Al­sup rejected the ar­gu­ment that then-Pres­i­dent Barack Obama had ex­ceeded his power in cre­at­ing DACA and said the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion failed to con­sider the dis­rup­tion that end­ing the pro­gram would cause.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion then asked the 9th Cir­cuit to throw out Al­sup’s rul­ing.

Dur­ing a hear­ing in May, Deputy As­sis­tant At­tor­ney Gen­eral Hashim Moop­pan ar­gued that the courts could not re­view the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s de­ci­sion to end DACA and de­fended the move against as­ser­tions that it was ar­bi­trary and capri­cious.

“It’s a ques­tion of an agency say­ing, ‘We’re not go­ing to have a pol­icy that might well be il­le­gal,’ ” Moop­pan told the judges. “That is a per­fectly ra­tio­nal thing to do.”

Moop­pan said the ad­min­is­tra­tion was un­der no obli­ga­tion to con­sider the fact that peo­ple had come to rely on DACA.

The judges on the 9th Cir­cuit panel ap­peared skep­ti­cal of the ar­gu­ment that the DACA de­ci­sion was be­yond the court’s au­thor­ity to re­view.

Judge Jac­que­line Nguyen ques­tioned the gov­ern­ment’s con­tention that a DACA de­ci­sion was be­yond the au­thor­ity of the court. She also dis­agreed with the ar­gu­ment that DACA isn’t le­gal.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion has been crit­i­cal of the 9th Cir­cuit and took the un­usual step of try­ing to side­step it and have the Cal­i­for­nia DACA cases heard di­rectly by the U.S. Supreme Court. The high court in Fe­bru­ary de­clined to do so.

Fed­eral judges in New York and Wash­ing­ton also have ruled against Trump on DACA.

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