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Latest Ruling On DACA Is Part Of A Legal Puzzle

More than 10 lawsuits have been filed challenging the plan to terminate the program

The latest judicial ruling on the termination of the Obama-era DACA program is just one part in a bigger legal puzzle that has been building up since the Trump administration announced its termination last September.

DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and allowed immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children, known as ‘dreamers,' to stay and work legally under renewable permits.

Tuesday's ruling from federal judge John Bates categorized the government's plan to terminate the program as “arbitrary and capricious” and gave the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) 90 days to “better explain its view” that DACA is illegal.

If the government fails to produce a more convincing argument in the three-month timeframe, the DHS “must accept and process new as well as renewal DACA applications,” the judge said.

So far, Bates is the third judge that has ruled against the Trump administration's plan to end the program.

The National Immigration Law Center (NILC), which is headquartered in Los Angeles, is one of the organizations that are closely monitoring the ongoing litigation around DACA.

NILC is counsel in one of the cases, specifically one that was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York and that is currently on appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

According to a document compiled by NILC, more than ten lawsuits have been filed challenging the government's termination of DACA and the plaintiffs in the cases that have gained the most traction brought claims which are primarily based on the Administrative Procedure Act and the U.S. Constitution's Due Process and Equal Protection clauses.

Besides the case in which NILC is a counsel, which is ‘Batalla Vidal v. Nielsen,' another lawsuit which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California is currently on appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Additionally, two nationwide injunctions that were issued earlier this year applied only to renewal requests for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.


Judge Bates' ruling has been welcomed by the ‘dreamer' community but, at the same time, some of its members are skeptical about how helpful it will be for their future.

Daniel Candelaria, advocacy organizer for United We Dream (UWD) in Texas, said they are being “cautious.”

“We know how long these court decisions, these situations from the court, take given our previous experience,” noted Candelaria, who added that such decisions “can go in either direction.”

Also on behalf of UWD, Sanaa Abrar –who works as advocacy and policy manager for the organization—, underscored in a written statement that “DACA has transformed the lives of hundreds of thousands of youth and their families.”

“We will not stop fighting until every single person in our community is able to live with safety and dignity,” Abrar added.

Houston-based Immigrant Families and Students in the Struggle (commonly known as FIEL, by its Spanish acronym) categorized Bates' ruling as a “victorious decision for undocumented youth.”

In a statement and referring to the 90-day period the government has provide Bates with the explanation he has requested, FIEL added the organization hopes that “in the end the Trump administration either waits out the allotted time or does not respond,” which, the statement adds, would allow DACA “to move forward.”

The Texas Democratic Party also reacted to the latest ruling.

Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa said in a statement that “the judicial branch has rejected Trump's cruel and unconstitutional actions.”

Call for clean DREAM Act

Nonetheless, Hinojosa added that “the fight for DACA is not over,” and that Congress should pass a so-called clean DREAM Act.

The Trump administration, which contends DACA is a misuse of executive power, reacted negatively to Bates' ruling and White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Wednesday it is “good news” for smuggling organizations and criminal networks and “horrible news for our national security.”

You can read the National Immigration Law Center's document on litigation regarding the termination of DACA here: