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Second federal judge blocks Trump’s move to end DACA

Demonstrators, many of them recent immigrants to America, protest the government shutdown and the lack of a deal on DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) outside of Federal Plaza on January 22, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by AFP)

A second US federal judge has temporarily blocked President Donald Trump’s administration from ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that protects young immigrants from deportation.

The ruling was made by US District Judge Nicholas Garaufis in Brooklyn, New York, on Tuesday, the second time in less than two months after another judge ruled as illegal the revocation of the Obama-era program that protects hundreds of thousands of children of undocumented immigrants from deportation.

Garaufis argued that the US government had failed to offer “legally adequate reasons” for ending DACA, and therefore the program could not be cancelled.

"Defendants indisputably can end the DACA program," Garaufis said, referring to the Trump administration. "The question before the court is thus not whether defendants 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 defendants have not done so."

​"Defendants thus must continue processing both initial DACA applications and DACA renewal requests under the same terms and conditions that applied before September 5, 2017," the judge added.

DACA is an executive action taken by former President Barack Obama that allowed undocumented immigrants who came to the US under the age of 16 to apply for protection from deportation and after a background check, those individuals were able to get renewable two-year permits to work and study in the US, as well.

The Trump administration announced on September 5 that it would end the program that has provided protection from deportation and the right to work legally to nearly 800,000 young immigrants, commonly known as Dreamers, since it was authorized by Obama in 2012.

Garaufis also stressed that the decision to terminate DACA rested exclusively on a legal conclusion that the program was “unconstitutional," and since that conclusion was erroneous, the decision to end DACA “cannot stand.”

On January 9, California Judge William Alsup issued a similar order that required the Trump administration to continue the DACA program.

Alsup said in his ruling that the US Department of Homeland Security's "decision to rescind DACA was based on a flawed legal premise."

The Tuesday ruling comes as the US Supreme Court is scheduled to meet behind closed doors on Friday to discuss whether to take up the Trump administration's appeal of the related case.

Opponents of DACA argue that the program rewards illegal immigration.

US Justice Department spokesman Devin O‘Malley said in a statement that DACA was implemented unilaterally by the former democratic president and thus unlawfully circumvented Congress.

“The Justice Department will continue to vigorously defend this position, and looks forward to vindicating its position in further litigation,” O‘Malley said. "Promoting and enforcing the rule of law is vital to protecting a nation, its borders, and its citizens."

The Trump administration will reportedly end the DACA program on March 5 and give Dreamers until October 5 to reapply for their permits.

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