Federal Judge in L.A. Says DACA Protections Can’t Be Taken Away From Individual Recipients
Young immigrants brought illegally to the United States as children have won another legal victory.
A federal judge in California ruled Monday that the government can’t revoke DACA recipients’ work permits or other protections without giving them notice and a chance to defend themselves.
The ruling in a California district court marks the third time a lower court has ruled against the administration’s handling of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. But this case, unlike the others, is not about President Donald Trump’s September decision to end the program.
US District Judge Philip Gutierrez’s preliminary injunction Monday addressed another aspect: government decisions to revoke protections from individual DACA recipients.
The Obama-era DACA program protected young immigrants brought illegally to the United States from deportation if they met certain criteria, paid fees, passed background checks and didn’t commit serious crimes.
The Trump administration announced it was ending the program last year, arguing that it was unconstitutional. A series of recent lower court rulings have thwarted that effort, requiring the government to continue renewing permits under the program while legal challenges make their way through the courts. On Monday, the US Supreme Court said it was staying out of the dispute for now.
Meanwhile, activists across the country have increasingly criticized government decisions to end DACA protections in individual cases.
Monday’s ruling came in a class action lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of the Inland Empire Immigrant Youth Collective, a Southern California-based group led by local undocumented youth. The suit argues that the government had revoked protections from DACA recipients who hadn’t been convicted of serious crimes without giving them any opportunity to defend themselves.
An example: Officials revoked the work permit of one of the plaintiffs, Jesus Arreola, after he was arrested on suspicion of immigrant smuggling. An immigration judge later found that allegation wasn’t credible, according to the ACLU’s complaint. Arreola says he was an Uber and Lyft driver who had picked up passengers for a friend without any knowledge of their immigration status.
Attorneys representing the government argue that the plaintiffs had “misused the trust given to them with the administrative grace of DACA.”
The judge said the Department of Homeland Security must restore protections to the group of DACA recipients who had them revoked “without notice, a reasoned explanation, or any opportunity to respond.”
The ruling also temporarily blocks officials from revoking DACA protections from others without following a procedure “which includes, at a minimum, notice, a reasoned explanation, and an opportunity to be heard prior to termination.”
The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment about Monday’s ruling.
According to DHS, officials had revoked or terminated 2,139 individuals’ DACA protections over the lifetime of the program as of August 2017.
The ruling came the same day the Supreme Court said it would stay out of the dispute over the termination of DACA for now, leaving renewals under the program in place for at least months.