Federal Judge Orders Full Reinstatement of DACA

U.S. District Judge John D. Bates ordered President Donald Trump's administration to fully reinstate DACA - the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program - which protects from deportation people who came to the United States before their 16th birthday by giving them temporary authorization to live and work legally in the country if they are eligible.

Judge Bates issued the order yesterday, August 3, in a 25-page opinionwhere he rejected the administration's argument that the decision to end DACA was still valid.

His order reaffirms his earlier ruling on April 24, when he determined that DACA should be restored, allowing renewals of applications from individuals previously approved for the program to continue. He also ruled that new applications should be accepted, giving eligible individuals the opportunity to register for DACA for the first time.

The decision of the judge, appointed by former Republican president George W. Bush, is detailed in a 60-page documentin which it asserts that the government suspended DACA in an "arbitrary and capricious" manner and "failed to adequately explain its conclusion that the program was unlawful".

Judge Bates gave the government 90 days to present valid arguments for terminating DACA, otherwise "the decision to rescind DACA will be vacated."

Department of Homeland Security Response

On June 22, the Secretary of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, issued a memorandum that appeared in courtin which he emphasizes that because DACA was implemented as a discretionary exercise of immigration enforcement, President Trump's administration also has the discretion to terminate the program.

In his opinion yesterday, Judge Bates said the Nielsen memo "offers nothing remotely approaching a thoughtful legal assessment that this court could subject to judicial review."

In the process, the judge denied a motion by the U.S. Department of Justice to reconsider its earlier decisionThe administration's justification for rescinding DACA is still flawed, he said.

DACA Reinstatement Order Cannot Yet Be Implemented

The restoration of the program will not be immediate. The judge said the order will be delayed for 20 days - until Aug. 23 - to give the government a chance to appeal his order.

If Judge Bates' decision faces no further legal obstacles, it could go into effect at the end of this month. If so, DACA will be restored in its entirety, and new applications would have to be accepted from individuals who meet the program's eligibility requirements.

According to the latest statistics, more than 700,000 undocumented immigrants are enrolled in the DACA program. That number could increase if more people who had previously been left out because they did not meet eligibility requirements, such as the minimum age to file an application, enroll for the first time.