It appears that the Trump administration is retreating from Washington with the tail between its legs.
Last Friday, federal judge Nicholas Garaufis ordered the administration to completely reinstate the Deferred Action for Children Arrival (DACA) program, which allows more than half a million undocumented immigrants who arrived in the country as children to live and work there.
As reported by Vox, Judge Garaufis decided on the case of Battle Vidal v. Wolf, stating that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) must “post a public notice, within three calendar days of this Order (…) that it is accepting first-time requests for consideration of deferred action under DACA,” arguing that the department tried to limit the program without having the authority to do so.
Garaufis ruled in mid-November that Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security in the Office of Strategy, Policy and Planning, Chad Wolf, “was not lawfully serving as Acting Secretary of Homeland Security under the Homeland Security Act (‘HSA’) when he issued the July 28, 2020 memorandum,” thereby cutting the legs out from under Wolf’s attempt to water down the DACA program. If Wolf was not the secretary, then his July memo is void.
The federal judge’s decision is the coup de grâce to the Trump administration’s attempts to rid itself of one of the most important legacies of the Obama era.
As of 2017, Trump’s DHS announced its intentions to definitely suspend the program, arguing that it was illegal.
Although the Supreme Court ruled that the administration should reinstate DACA completely, Wolf’s DHS decided to bypass the court decision, arguing that it presented “serious policy concerns that may warrant its full rescission.”
However, by 2019, Wolf was exercising the role of “Acting Secretary,” which left him with no power to change DACA.
“Today’s ruling opens the door for more than one million immigrant youth who have been unfairly denied their chance to apply for DACA and secure their future in this country,” said Karen Tumlin, the director of the Justice Action Center and one of the lawyers representing DACA beneficiaries, told CBS News. “Our brave plaintiffs have said from the beginning of this lawsuit that their home is here, and the court rightly recognized that today.
At the time of the decision, however, the Supreme Court had the voice of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who balanced the conservatism of its rulings. Now, with Amy Coney Barrett sworn in, it is likely that the best efforts of a new Biden-Harris administration will not prevent the Court from attempting to dismantle the program.
President-elect Joe Biden has vowed to shield DACA beneficiaries from deportation and to introduce another proposal in Congress that would allow them to gain permanent legal status if enacted. Jennifer Molina, a spokesperson for Mr. Biden’s transition, urged the Trump administration to “do the right thing” following the court order.
“On day one, President-elect Biden will ensure Dreamers and their families have the opportunity to live their lives free of fear and continue to contribute to our country,” Molina said in a statement to CBS News.