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Federal Judge Upholds Ruling That DACA Must Be Restored; What Happens Next?

August 22, 2018

On Friday, August 3, U.S. District Court Judge John Bates upheld his prior order to continue the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), delivering another blow to Trump administration efforts to end deportation protections for young undocumented immigrants, ordering the government to continue the Obama-era program. However, he won't require the administration to process new applications while it appeals his ruling.

Judge Bates ruled that the Trump administration must keep processing renewals for people already participating in DACA, as it is currently doing under other court rulings on the program. But Bates put on hold a portion of his ruling also requiring the administration to process new applications while his ruling is appealed.

The DACA program allows immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children to stay and work legally under renewable permits.

In his original decision back in April 2018, Judge Bates called the government's decision to end the DACA program "virtually unexplained" and therefore "unlawful."

Although the ruling may appease many Dreamers at first glance, it is by no means final. As United We Dream, an organization representing the Dreamers, stated, "The situation for DACA beneficiaries remains dangerous and unstable, as we do not know how the administration will respond, and there are other court cases in progress."

Judge Bates' decision gives the government 20 days to appeal. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has already issued a statement criticizing the opinion, in which he announced that "[t]he Department of Justice will take every lawful measure to vindicate the Department of Homeland Security's lawful rescission of DACA."

As United We Dream indicated, there are multiple lawsuits currently in courts across the country regarding DACA. In one, Texas, joined by Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina and West Virginia, filed suit asking the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas to "immediately rescind and cancel all DACA permits currently in existence" and to prevent the government "from issuing or renewing DACA permits in the future, effectively phasing out the program within two years." The holding of the Texas lawsuit is likely to clash with Judge Bates' decision.

The DACA program impacts more than just the Dreamers. It has broad bipartisan support in both the business and academic communities. The president of Princeton University has stated that "continued success... of learning and research depends on our ability to attract talent from all backgrounds, including Dreamers." The president of Microsoft, Brad Smith, has also stated that resolution of the DACA issue "has become an economic imperative and a humanitarian necessity." Both Princeton University and Microsoft joined the NAACP and several unions in bringing forth the Washington, D.C. lawsuit.

We will be closely following this case and will keep you apprised of developments in a future alert.

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