U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen following the classified House members-only briefing on election security in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC, May 22, 2018.
Shawn Thew/EPA

Federal judge smacks down Trump admin’s effort to rescind DACA

A few months ago, a federal court ruled that the Trump administration’s attempt to rescind the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program for Dreamers was “arbitrary and capricious.” Judge John D. Bates offered Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen an opportunity to either provide “a coherent explanation” of the administration’s legal position or to reissue its directive “for bona fide policy reasons.”

That didn’t go well.

A U.S. District Court judge in the District of Columbia ruled Friday that the Obama-era program offering temporary protected status to a cohort of immigrants brought here illegally as children must remain in place despite efforts by the Trump administration to dismantle it.

” … The Nielsen Memo offers nothing even remotely approaching a considered legal assessment that this Court could subject to judicial review,” Bates wrote. He added, later, “The Nielsen Memo demonstrates no true cognizance of the serious reliance interests at issue here – indeed, it does not even identify what those interests are … “

The full ruling, which is online here, is worth reading, if only to appreciate how thoroughly annoyed the federal district court judge seems with the DHS attorneys.

Its conclusion, for example, seemed especially brutal. “The Court did not hold in its prior opinion, and it does not hold today, that DHS lacks the statutory or constitutional authority to rescind the DACA 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…. A conclusory assertion that a prior policy is illegal, accompanied by a hodgepodge of illogical or post hoc policy assertions, simply will not do.”


That said, as the NBC News report added, the same judge ruled that “the administration could have until Aug. 23 to appeal the decision before the order to reanimate the program and allow new applications goes into effect.”

Postscript: The judge in the case, in case anyone’s curious, was named to the federal bench by George W. Bush.