A panel of judges heard arguments today concerning the Trump administration’s ongoing efforts to rescind the DACA program, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. DACA has given nearly 700 thousand people brought to the US under the age of 16 a certain amount of legal status, allowing them to work on the books (and thus receive at least minimum wage), go to school, and pay taxes.
In January, a district court judge in San Francisco ordered a nationwide injunction against the administration’s rescind order which stopped the government from removing the program altogether, but it also didn’t stop the Trump administration from trying.
The hearing on May 15 was on whether or not to uphold the injunction. The court did not issue a ruling, nor did it give a date when it would, but a decision is expected in the coming months. Most legal experts believe that the case will eventually end up at the Supreme Court.
The injunctions allow for DACA recipients to renew their status but does not permit any new applicants. On April 24, District Court Judge John Bates in Washington D.C. ruled in favor of parties suing the Trump administration over the rescind order and stated that the DACA-rescission memo itself be vacated, or nullified. However, the court ordered a 90 stay against its own ruling to allow for the government to come up with a better explanation of why it order to end DACA.
This means that if the administration takes no action against Judge Bates’ order, the government will have to begin offering new applications for DACA recipients after the 90 day mark, July 23.
Meanwhile the nationwide injunctions state that the government must continue to accept and process DACA renewal applications from those who have previously received DACA status.
In summation: No new DACA applications are being accepted, but renewals are. If the government takes no action against Judge Bates’ ruling before July 23, the order to rescind DACA will be nullified entirely. If the government does take action, such as appealing Judge Bate’s ruling, the legal battle will continue but the injunctions will keep the government processing DACA renewals.
Outside the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals building in Pasadena, CA, where the hearing was held, DACA recipients and their supporters held a press conference where they told stories of what it’s like to live with this precarious legal status.
“Within these 90 days, us DACA beneficiaries, we’re in limbo. We don’t know if it’s gonna go for us, or if it’s gonna go against us,” Manuel Jimenez said. “Prior to DACA I wasn’t sure if I was gonna be able to work…working is an issue. We would have to get sketchy jobs, getting paid cash, getting paid under the table. Whereas with DACA we’d be paid what we need to be paid.”
Dulce Garcia, one of the plaintiffs in the suit, told the crowd how she had been undocumented for 30 years. How, despite her B.A. from U.C. San Diego, law degree, and owning her own law practice, “still, I’m undocumented,” she said. “There is no path to citizenship for me, there is no permanent protection for me and my family.”
After the hearing, she sounded a more hopeful note. “I have no doubt,” she said, “one way or another whether it’s in the courts, whether it’s in Congress, we will prevail.”
According to an NPR poll in February, over two-thirds of Americans believe that the so-called DREAMers, should receive some kind of legal status.
Attorneys representing the government argued that the Obama administration had no authority to start such a program and that DACA was fundamentally illegal. During the arguments, one attorney said that under DACA the government was “forced to give sanctuary to to 700 thousand illegal aliens” and that racial animus played no part in the decision.