State lawmakers in Washington said the fight for young undocumented immigrants brought to the country when they were children isn’t over yet.
A California federal judge ruled late Tuesday the president must continue the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program until a final decision is made about whether the program is legal or not.
The injunction handed down by San Francisco U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup requires President Donald Trump and his staff to continue the program for those who have already received deferred-action benefits.
The injunction is a double-edged sword, as it includes the dismissal of two of the plaintiffs’ charges against the administration.
The Trump administration began to raze the program in September, arguing it is illegal, which led to a pushback from several states, immigrant advocacy groups and eventual lawsuits against the administration in October. Despite the pending litigation, the administration continued its course of action to reverse the program.
“It’s inconsiderate [to do away with DACA]; the U.S. is the great melting pot,” Hudson resident Justin Burrows said. “I also do not think it is smart. I know it is sort of wartime, but we are not at war with Mexico.”
U.S. Rep. John Faso, R-19, has repeatedly expressed support for the program and vowed to work to create a legislative fix that includes provisions for tighter border security short of a vast wall.
“It is my hope that in the coming days, Congress will enact legislation to both address the DACA issue along with making necessary improvements to our immigration system and border security,” Faso said. “I am encouraged by the bipartisan discussions going on in both chambers, along with the administration’s involvement.
“I fully support granting legal status to immigrants covered under the DACA program who have clean records, are working or receiving an education, or serving in the military.”
The injunction forces the Trump administration to maintain the program with the same terms and conditions that existed before it was ended in September, including allowing people to renew their enrollment. However, the administration is not required to take in new applications or continue a provision that allows the immigrants to be readmitted into the country without a visa, and allows the administration to use discretion for removing status on a case-by-case basis.
“It just shows everyone how broken and unfair our court system is when the opposing side in a case such as DACA always runs to the 9th Circuit and almost always wins before being reversed by higher courts,” Trump said Wednesday on Twitter in response to the injunction.
The administration can appeal the injunction.
The injunction could act as a catharsis relieving the pressure driving Congress to pass a legislative fix.
“Let me be very clear: this ruling in no way diminishes the urgency of resolving the DACA issue,” said U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. “On this, we agree with the president, who says the ruling doesn’t do anything to reduce Congress’ obligation to address this problem now.”
Congress has been working on a legislative fix for the program, searching for compromise with the president. Trump at one point said he would sign a bipartisan bill and then said just before the injunction was handed down he would not look at any agreement as long as money for a border wall is absent from the budget.
“Dreamers shouldn’t be used as political pawns to pay for an absurd border wall,” said U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y. “We shouldn’t put hundreds of thousands of lives on the line just so that the president can fulfill a hateful campaign promise. It’s nonsense. We need to pass a clean DREAM Act now.”
The injunction buys time for DACA recipients as they await an ultimate decision on the legality of the program or Congress passes a law that creates similar paths to citizenship.
The injunction also includes a dismissal of charges filed by state governments of Maine and Minnesota stating the governments will face marginal injuries from the regulatory change. The Trump administration asked for dismissal of the lawsuits and argued only individuals directly affected by the removal of the program have jurisdiction to challenge that action.
The state governments argued the program could cause them to lose out on significant tax revenue and could cause other economic losses. The injunction only dismisses Maine and Minnesota’s charges — not those of other states. Both states have 21 days to ask to amend their complaints and refile.
State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration in September. Schneiderman’s complaint argues the state could face major tax revenue losses, stating DACA-eligible residents contribute approximately $140 million in state and local taxes annually — a contribution that may drop by $55 million without the program.
As of June 30, 2017, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services approved 42,503 initial DACA applications and 62,850 renewals in the state, with an estimated 38,848 DACA grantees employed, with 2,295 owning businesses, 19,084 attending school and 13,645 currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree or higher, according to Schneiderman’s complaint.
Terminating the program would, over a 10-year period, impact the state’s economy with $10.7 billion in budgetary costs and $38.6 billion in economic costs, according to the attorney general’s complaint.
The New York Times contributed to this story.