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A third federal judge has ruled illegal the Trump Administration’s rescission of the DACA program. But unlike other judges, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Judge John Bates ruled the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) must start accepting new DACA applications within 90 days if it cannot adequately justify termination.

Judge Bates’ ruling said the Administration did not explain its rationale for ending DACA, which makes the decision “arbitrary and capricious,” i.e., illegal under the Administrative Procedures Act (APA). Bates wrote, “The Department’s decision to rescind DACA was predicated primarily on its legal judgment that the program was unlawful. That legal judgment was virtually unexplained, however, and so it cannot support the agency’s decision. And although the government suggests that DACA’s rescission was also predicated on the Department’s assessment of litigation risk, this consideration is insufficiently distinct from the agency’s legal judgment to alter the reviewability analysis. It was also arbitrary and capricious in its own right, and thus likewise cannot support the agency’s action. For these reasons, DACA’s rescission was unlawful and must be set aside.”

In deciding separate DACA cases, Judge William Alsup of the Northern District of  California and Judge Nicholas Garaufis of the Eastern District of New York required the Administration to continue renewing DACA applications while they decided the merits of the cases. Bates instead ruled that the rescission was a violation of the APA and vacated it, which reinstates the original DACA program.

However, Bates gave DHS 90 days to reissue a memorandum terminating DACA before his order takes effect. He said that memorandum must provide “a fuller explanation for the determination that the program lacks statutory and constitutional authority…For example, it could offer a coherent legal argument that DACA conflicts with the INA [Immigration and Naturalization Act] or violates the President’s duty to ‘take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.’”

The Washington Times reports that law professor Josh Blackman thinks Bates helped the Administration by laying out new grounds for ending DACA. “This is a huge victory for DOJ. By providing a modified justification, this can save the case on appeal,” Blackman said.

Read more in The Washington Times.

DACA

Updated: Mon, Jul 9th 2018 @ 9:40am EDT