Debate about the legal basis for the executive action taken by former President Barack Obama in 2012 to create DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) resumed anew with Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filing suit May 1, 2018.
Generally speaking, DACA is a program that grants work authorization and defers the deportation of applicants that prove they were brought to the U.S. as minors and have met the education requirements and have no significant criminal history. President Trump campaigned against the former president’s use of his executive authority and promised to terminate the program. In September 2017, President Trump followed through on that campaign promise and announced the “winding down” of DACA. Subsequently, multiple suits were filed across the country regarding this announcement.
Previous federal court rulings have blocked the complete termination of the program, but the most recent decision from the Honorable John D. Bates of Federal District Court for the District of Columbia said that the Administration’s decision to rescind DACA was “arbitrary and capricious because the Department failed adequately to explain its conclusion that the program was unlawful.” While DACA renewals continue to be accepted as a result of similar injunctions out of federal courts in San Francisco and Brooklyn, Judge Bates went one step further stating that initial DACA applications should also be processed. Nevertheless, Judge Bates has granted the government 90 days to provide sufficient justification for ending DACA or it will be ordered to begin accepting new DACA applications
It is no wonder that Texas Attorney General Paxton was so quick to file suit. The program that was shut down is essentially restored to its original state. According to Paxton, “Our lawsuit is about the rule of law, not the wisdom of any particular immigration policy.” Curiously enough, the Trump Administration and U.S. Attorney General have all made statements that align with Paxton’s position, or else it would not have terminated the program on the basis that it was outside the scope of the executive’s authority. So what will the judiciary ultimately decide on this issue? Stay tuned.