A New DACA Ruling Will Keep the Program Alive

Gabriela Matinez 19 left holds a sign at a protest last month

While Congress and lawmakers continue to juggle the train of the Trump Administration, a new federal judge assumes responsibility for saving the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

In January, a San Francisco federal judge blocked the Trump administration from ending DACA, rejecting the government's argument that the courts can't review whether the president improperly chose to terminate the program. The decision affects close to 17,000 Indians. He is also the first Republican appointee to rule against President Donald Trump's move to end the immigration program.

Bates, the third federal judge to resist the idea of scrapping Daca, said if the homeland security department couldn't produce a better reasoning stating why Daca was illegal within a time frame of 90 days, then it would have to process new applications being submitted under the programme.

Previous legal challenges from California and NY have forced the federal government to continue to accept renewals, but Tuesday's decision - if it goes through - would go one step further to require that new applications must also be accepted. They argued that the administration had acted arbitrarily, in violation of federal law, because it had failed to offer a rational explanation for rescinding a program that had been in effect for more than five years.

According to South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), a non-profit organization, a total of 5,500 Indians and Pakistanis are covered under DACA, and an additional 17,000 from India are eligible for it.

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However, with Bates, there are already three judges who are in open disagreement with the positions of the Department of Homeland Security, agreeing that its legal arguments to suspend the program border on the "arbitrary and capricious".

Immigration activists cheered Tuesday's decision but the Justice Department said it will continue to defend the phaseout.

The move follows similar decisions from judges in NY and San Francisco. The Supreme Court denied the request in February. But neither of those decisions required the government to accept new applications.

While the previous decisions came from judges appointed by President Bill Clinton, Bates was nominated by President George W. Bush. He continued with his strong stand on the issue and his administration started deporting undocumented immigrants from the US.

Judge Bates, in his ruling, also weighed in on terminology, saying he accepted complaints of those who consider the term "illegal" to be offensive, and he would instead adopt the terminology of immigrant-rights activists.

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