Trump Admin Racks Up DACA Win, Maryland Federal Judge Dismisses Challenge to End of Policy

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Judge Roger Titus of the U.S District Court for the District of Maryland dismissed a lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s decision to end President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) protections for illegal aliens Monday, bucking two other federal courts.

In litigation likely to end up in the United State Supreme Court, Judge William Alsup of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California and Judge Nicholas Garaufis of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York both unilaterally reinstated DACA despite the Trump administration ending the amnesty program the same way the Obama administration created it: by executive action.

These judges, both appointed by President Bill Clinton, found a significant likelihood those challenging the Trump administration would win and therefore issued preliminary injunctions creating a partial reinstatement of DACA nationwide.

Both found the decision to end DACA was likely “arbitrary and capricious” and ran afoul of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), the statute that governs how federal agencies implement policy.

The George W. Bush-appointed Judge Titus, in a 30-page opinion, rejected similar arguments and dismissed the claims of Casa de Maryland, an illegal alien advocacy group based in the capital beltway.

The crux of the difference in the rulings is that Titus admits the possibility that DACA itself is unconstitutional, as the nearly identical Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) policy was already found to be by the U.S. Court of Appeals for Fifth Circuit. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have both publicly supported the view that DACA is similarly illegal. That belief forms the basis of the Department of Homeland Security’s stated reasoning for ending DACA.

Finding that DACA was amost certainly legal, the California and New York courts then referenced President Donald Trump’s campaign statements as evidence the decision was not made for permissible reasons. Titus did not accept this reasoning, writing, “As disheartening or inappropriate as the President’s occasionally disparaging remarks may be, they are not relevant to the larger issues governing the DACA rescission.”

Titus also refuses to allow the use of Trump’s statements to sustain any of the constitutional challenges brought under the Fifth Amendment. Neither of the first two cases definitely reached the constitutional claims Titus ruled against because they found a sufficient likelihood of success on the APA claim.

Judge Titus, however, despite reaffirming the principle under which Obama’s executive amnesty was rescinded, took the opportunity to make clear that he was unequivocally pro-amnesty, referring to the illegals covered by DACA repeatedly as “Dreamers,” disparaging the president throughout, and writing, for example:

For over a decade at the start of the 21st century, Congress quarreled over policies regarding illegal aliens who entered the country as children, and who may have no memory or connection with their country of origin. Would the world’s beacon of freedom—a nation founded by immigrants—cast out an immigrant population that was likely brought here without choice and who likely now knows no other home? While “no” would seem to be the obvious answer, ordinary logic has eluded our Congress.

Judge Titus ends his opinion with an unguarded political proclamation. “This Court does not like the outcome of this case, but is constrained by its constitutionally limited role to the result that it has reached,” he writes. “Hopefully, the Congress and the President will finally get their job done.”

Department of Justice spokesman Devin O’Malley issued the following response to his department’s win:

The Department of Justice has long maintained that DHS acted within its lawful authority in making the discretionary decision to wind down DACA in an orderly manner, and we welcome the good news today that the district court in Maryland strongly agrees.

Today’s decision also highlights a serious problem with the disturbing growth in the use of nationwide injunctions, which causes the Maryland court’s correct judgment in favor of the government to be undermined by the overbroad injunctions that have been entered by courts in other states.

Despite these hurdles, the Justice Department will continue to defend the promotion and enforcement of the rule of law, which is so vital to protecting a nation, its borders, and its citizens.

The case is Casa de Maryland v. U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security, No. 17-cv-2942 in U.S District Court for the District of Maryland.

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