A federal judge on Friday ordered a total restart of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, in a hit to the Trump administration.
The administration last year announced its plan to phase out the program, which provides a level of amnesty to certain illegal immigrants, many of whom came to the U.S. as children.
The order is not set to kick in right away, according to Politico, which notes that the government has until Aug. 23 to file a motion to appeal the ruling by U.S. District Judge John Bates.
However, the judge denied a motion by the government to revise its earlier decision in April — which determined that the Department of Homeland Security’s decision to rescind DACA was “unlawful,” according to court documents.
Following that decision, the court issued a 90-day stay acknowledging that the “DHS could possibly remedy the decision’s inadequacies — at least in theory.” That period of time is now over, the judge said.
“For the reasons explained below, the government’s motion will be denied,” the document read. “Although the Nielsen Memo purports to offer further explanation for DHS’ decision to rescind DACA, it fails to elaborate meaningfully on the agency’s primary rationale for its decision: the judgment that the policy was unlawful and unconstitutional.”
The aforementioned memo from DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen provided “additional ‘policy’ grounds” to undo DACA, the judge wrote. However, he added that “most of these simply repackage legal arguments previously made,” making them “‘insufficiently independent from the agency’s evaluation of DACA’s legality’ to preclude judicial review or to support the agency’s decision.”
In closing the brief, the judge wrote that at no point in this ruling, or the previous one, did the court contend that the DHS didn’t have “the statutory or constitutional authority” to end the program.
“Rather, the court simply holds that if DHS wishes to rescind the program – or to take any other action, for that matter – it must give a rational explanation for its decision,” the judge wrote.
“A conclusory assertion that a prior policy is illegal, accompanied by a hodgepodge of illogical or post hoc policy assertions, simply will not do,” the judge wrote. “The court therefore reaffirms its conclusion that DACA’s rescission was unlawful and must be set aside.”
The DACA program was formed through executive action by former President Barack Obama in 2012 and allowed certain people who came to the U.S. illegally as minors to be protected from immediate deportation. Recipients, widely known as Dreamers, were able to request “consideration of deferred action” for a period of two years, which was subject to renewal.
Individuals were able to request DACA status if they were under the age of 31 by June 15, 2012, came to the U.S. before turning 16 and continuously lived in the country since June 15, 2007.
It did not provide “legal status.”