The Trump administration’s efforts to put an end to the DACA program for undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children has been put on hold by a judge for the second time in two months.
On Tuesday, Eastern District of New York Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis ruled that the White House’s current plan to end DACA this spring was legally unjustified, and that the program must be kept in place while a lawsuit filed by more than a dozen state attorneys general works its way through the legal system.
“[The Trump administration] indisputably can end the DACA program,” Garaufis wrote. “The question before the court is thus not whether [The Trump Administration] could end the DACA program, but whether they offered legally adequate reasons for doing so. Based on its review of the record before it, the court concludes that [the Trump administration] have not done so.”
Garaufis’ ruling comes just over a month after a federal judge in California offered a similar injunction against the government, which keeps DACA in place while a separate lawsuit filed by the University of California and other groups is being heard.
Both rulings essentially mean that the government may find itself forced to continue accepting and processing DACA applications past the March 5 deadline set by the Trump administration for the expiration of the program.
Noting that his decision to order the injunction did not—nor could it—rest on the “extremely worrisome” prospect of deportation for current DACA and DACA-eligable recipients, Judge Garaufis nevertheless included in his ruling a nod to the impending deadline and its potential impact on thousands of people:
Each day, approximately 122 DACA recipients who failed (or were unable) to renew their DACA status before October 5,2017, lose their deferred action and work authorization. If the implementation of the DACA Rescission Memo is not enjoined, approximately 1,400 DACA recipients will lose deferred action each work day, beginning on March 5,2018. As a result, these individuals will face the possibility of deportation from the country.
This latest ruling comes as Congress prepares to begin working on immigration legislation in the wake of a government shutdown that hinged in part on a legislative stalemate over DACA.
While the Justice Department has not yet offered an official response to the latest ruling, President Trump on Tuesday bizarrely jested that congressional Democrats didn’t want to “help DACA” before quickly adding “I’m kidding. I’m sure you do.”