Why A Federal Judge Temporarily Blocked An Attempt To End The DACA Program

“DACA covers a class of immigrants whose presence ... pose[s] the least, if any, threat.”

The current administration seeks to end the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — which has protected about 800,000 people who are or were young immigrants from deportation — but a federal judge temporarily blocked those efforts last night, January 9.

Responding to a request by California and other plaintiffs, U.S. District Judge William Alsup prevented the Trump administration from ending DACA for the time that lawsuits against the dismantling of DACA are still in play, Time reported. Alsup said lawyers supporting the program demonstrated the immigrants "were likely to suffer serious, irreparable harm" without court action and speculated those lawyers have a good chance at winning their cases.

According to The Washington Post, Alsup also cited a tweet in which President Donald Trump expressed support of DACA. "Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated, and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military? Really!" Trump tweeted on September 14. In another tweet, the president wrote, "Congress now has 6 months to legalize DACA (something the Obama Administration was unable to do). If they can't, I will revisit this issue!"

After U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the program's imminent end in September, plaintiffs filed multiple lawsuits nationwide. Alsup considered five of those lawsuits, including one filed by the governing board of the University of California governing board.

"DACA covers a class of immigrants whose presence, seemingly all agree, pose the least, if any, threat and allows them to sign up for honest labor on the condition of continued good behavior," he wrote in his decision. "This has become an important program for DACA recipients and their families, for the employers who hire them, for our tax treasuries, and for our economy."

In 2012, Time ran a cover story on America's Dreamers — undocumented immigrants brought to the States illegally by their parents who were collectively named after the DREAM Act, a proposed permanent residency program for immigrant minors. That cover story, "We are Americans, Just Not Legally," hit newsstands the same day President Barack Obama enacted DACA. In 2017, Time caught up with many of those interviewees to get a sense of their mindsets under the new administration.

"The [2016] election I think for me brought out feelings of things I've known for years that deferred action was never a permanent solution," Juan Pablo Orjuela told the magazine. "I found myself getting really comfortable with DACA, but after the election and especially with what's going [on] now, it's just kind of bringing up those feelings again. And I'm just kind of like, 'Oh no, what am I going to do now?' "

Interviewee Daniela Bravo-Terkia revealed she's "extremely anxious" about the prospect of DACA ending, saying, "It would be like a huge rewind. And there's something we don't talk enough [about], is my mental health would be extremely compromised. Anxiety, depression. In the past I've had suicidal attempts because the stress of the situation is too much, it's too real."

In the wake of Judge Alsup's ruling, the Department of Justice stated it still has the power to end DACA. "The Justice Department will continue to vigorously defend this position, and looks forward to vindicating its position in further litigation," department spokesman Devin O'Malley said in a statement.

Others, however, celebrated the ruling. "Dreamers' lives were thrown into chaos when the Trump administration tried to terminate the DACA program without obeying the law," California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement after Tuesday's decision. "Tonight's ruling is a huge step in the right direction."

Cover image via Sheila Fitzgerald / Shutterstock.com


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