U.S. Judge Says ‘Dreamer’ Lawsuits Can Be Reviewed by CourtsBy
NY judge is presiding over two cases tied to ending program
Government challenged judge’s authority to review decision
A federal judge in Brooklyn, New York, said courts can review the U.S. Justice Department’s decision to rescind the so-called Dreamer program for children of undocumented immigrants.
U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis ruled Thursday the lawsuits could proceed over the planned termination of the program, called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, rejecting the Justice Department’s request that they be dismissed. The judge narrowed some of the claims in the lawsuits.
“Defendants first argue these cases are non-justiciable because the decision to end the DACA program was committed to DHS’s exclusive discretion by law,” Garaufis said. “The court disagrees.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Sept. 5 the Trump administration decided to end the Obama-era policy directive, and gave Dreamers until Oct. 5 to reapply for their permits. The program is set to formally end on March 5. Sessions, in announcing the action, described Obama’s initiative as an “unconstitutional exercise of authority by the executive branch.”
New York State and 15 state attorneys general as well as the District of Columbia sued the Trump administration after Sessions announced plans to end the program.
“We look forward to continuing to pursue our case to protect Dreamers and New York’s best interests,” Amy Spitalnick, a spokeswoman for New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, said in an emailed statement.
Garaufis’s ruling also pertains to a 2016 suit brought by Martin Batalla Vidal, 26, a Queens student who was brought to the U.S. from Mexico at age six and is challenging the rescission of his work permit in 2015. Several other undocumented immigrants have also joined his suit.
Justice Department lawyers argued last month the suits should be dismissed because no federal court could review the decision to rescind the program after Sessions determined DACA was “unlawful,” and that the Obama administration had created it “without proper statutory authority.”
“We’re very pleased with the court’s ruling as a vast majority of our case is moving forward," said David Chen, a student intern at the Yale Law clinic, which represents Batalla Vidal. “Judge Garaufis has rejected the government’s attempt to throw up road blocks when they claim the case isn’t reviewable by a federal court. It’s an important step that will allow us to vindicate our client.”
Devin O’Malley, a spokesman for the Justice Department, said DOJ “continues to maintain that an orderly wind down of DACA is not judicially reviewable.”
A federal appeals court in Manhattan is also reviewing the two Brooklyn suits. Government lawyers sought and obtained a temporary halt to having to turn over evidence in those cases. Meanwhile, a federal appeals court in California is reviewing a government appeal of a different suit challenging the rescission of the program.
Justice Department lawyers argued at a hearing that the government’s decision was an “unreviewable exercise of prosecutorial discretion” and argued DACA recipients “have no protected liberty.” They said if the U.S. wasn’t allowed to wind down the program in an orderly fashion, it would minimize disruption and plunge “nearly 800,000 recipients into uncertainty.”
At a hearing in September, Garaufis urged the government to voluntarily lift the deadlines and let the president and Congress resolve the issue through legislation. He said that if the U.S. didn’t extend the deadline, the estimated 800,000 recipients of the program would be harmed as would their families.