Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
KPBS Midday Edition

Federal Judge Temporarily Blocks Trump's Decision To End DACA

Demonstrators urging the Democratic Party to protect the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Act (DACA) rally outside the office of California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein in Los Angeles last week.
Reed Saxon AP
Demonstrators urging the Democratic Party to protect the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Act (DACA) rally outside the office of California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein in Los Angeles last week.

Federal Judge Temporarily Blocks Trump's Decision To End DACA
Federal Judge Temporarily Blocks Trump's Decision To End DACA GUEST: Glenn Smith, professor, California Western School of Law

>>> President Trump reacted angrily this morning to a federal court's ruling, reinstating some of the provisions of the DACA program. Trump said the ruling by the judge showed how broken the court system is. But, the judge actually used statements tweeted by Trump in making his ruling, that ending DACA was a capricious and arbitrary move by the White House. Joining me to explain this is Glenn Smith, a constitutional locks -- professor at the California Western school of Law. Welcome. >> Thank you. >> What was the basic for the federal court injunction? And, let me clarify that, doesn't the president have the right to rescind a previous president's executive order? >> If we were only talking about an executive order, the president would have more of a right, but President Obama's original DACA executive order, and president Trump's rescission of that both had to be lamented by an administrative agency. In this case, the Department of Homeland Security. And any administrative agency, when it takes an initial position or changes a position, has to avoid being arbitrary and capricious. So, they needed a rational basis for their view that DACA was not legal, and the court, after going through an analysis, found they did not have such a rational basis. >> What was the administration's argument in the case? Why did they say they should be allowed to and DACA? >> There were two arguments, and one that they made during the litigation was that -- that the Obama administration did not have authority to adopt DACA in the first place, that DACA was an overreach of the president, and the executive branch's authority. And they relied in part on a District Court and a fifth circuit ruling out of Texas, which did not deal directly with DACA, but with the follow-up to DACA, the broader program that involved the family members of the dreamers. And so, they were facing a litigation challenge, and they said that the law went against DACA, it needed to be done by Congress. Then, after the lawsuit began, they made a more practical argument saying -- look, even if we are not right on legal merits, we face a lawsuit. So, as a practical matter we decided to pull in our horns. >> And what role did the presidents tweet or tweets playing this decision? >> That is the most interesting part, as you probably know -- the presidential tweets have been a big issue in the travel ban litigation. One of the interesting things about this case is that the District Court used the presidents favorable tweets, both before and after the rescission of trend -- DACA, where he said he supported the logic of protecting the dreamers against deportation, he used that as part of the showing that it was irrational to change the law. After all, if the chief executive tweeted both before and after that DACA was a good idea, then it was less rational to get rid of it. >> So, does this court decision mean that the DACA program is fully restored? >> It is mainly restored. And of course, you know -- inevitably, this is going to be appealed. This is not the last word. Although, ultimately if the political branches work out a legislative solution to DACA, that will moot the legal challenges here but, in the meantime. DACA, the DACA deadline, DACA was facing a deadline of March 5, at which time people that had already gotten deferred action could no longer ask for a renewal. And that has been put on hold. They can continue to request a renewal of their DACA status, and as long as this order holds, that will continue. There are a couple of more minor parts of DACA, that the court did not extend. But, basically the court was trying to return to the status quo, where people who already had one DACA release from deportation, could get it renewed. >> But no new applicants? Is that correct? >> That is correct. The opinion makes that clear, that -- I will quote it. DACA continues with the exception, number one, that new applications from applicants who have never before received deferred action need not be processed. >> President Trump, and his reaction, seems to indicate the reason that he lost this case was because it was decided by a California judge. You just said this will play out through the courts. But, does the president have a point? >> Well, certainly different judges look at different cases differently. I mean -- to state the obvious. But, I think -- I am disturbed as I have continue to be disturbed -- it is one thing to criticize the logic of the court really, it is another thing to criticize the legitimacy and imply that simply because a judge is from Hawaii, or California, or the Ninth Circuit, that they are not giving this there adequate judicial consideration. This is a well-reasoned, extensive opinion. It certainly does take some chances. Including, as we talked about a minute ago, use of the tweets. Certainly, you can argue it the other way, but to boil this down to simply -- oh, it is just a California judge. Or it is just the crazy Ninth Circuit. You are irresponsibly denigrating the courts in my view. >> I have been talking to Glenn Smith, constitutional law professor. Glenn, as always, thank you. >> You're welcome. [ Music ].

A federal judge in California late Tuesday night temporarily blocked the Trump administration's decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Advertisement

Known as DACA for short, it protects young immigrants from deportation. In September, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the program would be phased out.

President Obama implemented the program in 2012, and it has protected about 800,000 people who were brought to the United States as children by their families, some of whom overstayed their visas. Under the program, these young adults referred to as "Dreamers" have been permitted to live and work legally in the U.S.

U.S. District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco granted a request by California and other states to keep DACA going, at least until lawsuits can play out in court.

The Associated Press reports:

"Alsup said lawyers in favor of DACA clearly demonstrated that the young immigrants "were likely to suffer serious, irreparable harm" without court action. The judge also said the lawyers have a strong chance of succeeding at trial."Alsup considered five separate lawsuits filed in Northern California, including one by California and three other states, and another by the governing board of the University of California school system.

"DACA covers a class of immigrants whose presence, seemingly all agree, pose the least, if any, threat and allows them to sign up for honest labor on the condition of continued good behavior," Alsup wrote in his decision. "This has become an important program for DACA recipients and their families, for the employers who hire them, for our tax treasuries, and for our economy."
Advertisement
California Attorney General Becerrasaid in a statement after Tuesday's decision:

"Dreamers lives were thrown into chaos when the Trump Administration tried to terminate the DACA program without obeying the law. Tonight's ruling is a huge step in the right direction."

However, the Trump administration could appeal Alsup's ruling.

Earlier at the White House, President Trump met with lawmakers to discuss the DACA program and other immigration issues.

NPR's Brian Naylor reported:

"Trump told a bipartisan group of lawmakers on Tuesday that he wants a bill to allow young immigrants who were brought to the country illegally to remain, saying that such a measure should be "a bipartisan bill of love" and that "we can do it."

"As to what sort of immigration legislation he would approve, Trump said that he was reliant on lawmakers and that even if they produced legislation he wasn't "in love with," he would still support it. He also said he would take the heat for both Republicans and Democrats if they get criticism over a compromise immigration measure, adding that his "whole life has been heat" and that to a certain extent he prefers it that way."
The president also addressed the issue of a border wall with Mexico, saying the U.S. needs one "in certain areas obviously that aren't protected by nature" and where existing fences are in bad shape and need to be fixed or rebuilt.

But Trump also added, "There are large areas where you don't need a wall."

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Explore all national, state and local returns now.