A federal judge in Maryland has sided with the Trump administration over a lawsuit challenging the Justice Department’s ability to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Judge Roger W. Titus, a Bush appointee, ruled late Monday President Trump acted within his authority in his plan to rescind an executive order former President Barack Obama announced in 2012 as a way to protect illegal immigrants who were brought to the United States as minors. Trump ended the order over a period of six months until Congress could legislatively solve the problem.
“This decision took control of a pell-mell situation and provided Congress — the branch of government charged with determining immigration policy — an opportunity to remedy it. Given the reasonable belief that DACA was unlawful, the decision to wind down DACA in an orderly manner was rational,” Titus wrote.
“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. The DACA Rescission Memo is clear as to its purpose and reasoning, and its decision is rationally supported by the administrative record,” the judge added.
While a major win for the Trump administration, the decision does not affect the current status of DACA. The program is still in place because other courts have handed down injunctions mandating the program continue while legal challenges to Trump’s decision to end the program continue. The administration originally set a March 5 deadline for the end of DACA.
Current recipients are able to apply for renewal while the cases are pending, but no new illegal immigrants who would otherwise be covered by the program can apply.
A Justice Department spokesman praised the judge’s decision.
“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,” DOJ spokesman Devin O’Malley said in a statement.
The lawsuit filed in Maryland is just one of a handful that opponents have submitted following Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ September announcement that the Obama-era program would conclude in six months.
Two cases — one in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in California and another in the Eastern District of New York — have both received preliminary injunctions, which mandated the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency continue to accept renewal applications from 689,000 DACA recipients while the issue is decided by the courts.
The Maryland judge slammed his colleagues decisions to prevent DACA from ending and said they had chosen to push their own political beliefs instead of accepting the administration’s decision.
O’Malley praised the Maryland court and said the judge pointed out a deeper issue affecting federal courts nationwide.
“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 over-broad injunctions that have been entered by courts in other states,” O’Malley said.
Titus also praised the Trump administration’s strategy to wind the program down over the course of half a year instead of doing so in a shorter period.
Trump has taken issue with previous unrelated court decisions, including the administration’s travel bans, alleging the judges ruled against him for political reasons.
The Maryland judge’s decision is expected to give the Department of Justice more support in its appeals that the administration was justified in ending DACA.