On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis in New York temporarily sidetracked efforts to rescind Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) when he ruled that Attorney General Jeff Sessions “erred in concluding that DACA is unconstitutional” and ordered the Trump administration to resume accepting renewal applications from DACA beneficiaries.
While the decision was hailed by proponents of amnesty for the nearly 2 million individuals participating in or eligible for DACA, it should not be seen as a victory for them or, more importantly, for the rule of law.
In his 55-page decision, Garaufis conceded the administration’s authority, saying they “indisputably can end the DACA program.”
He further admitted that “nothing in the Constitution or in the Immigration and Nationality Act” requires the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) “grant deferred action or work authorization to individuals without lawful immigration status.”
The decision also does not require the government to grant any particular DACA application, nor does it prevent revoking individual recipients’ deferred action or work authorization.
The issue before the court was whether the administration lawyers “offered legally adequate reasons for doing so,” he maintained.
The ruling may have confused some, but it should not have surprised anyone considering Judge Garaufis’ has been tipping his hand since last fall.
During a September hearing related to a lawsuit brought by a Queens DACA recipient, Judge Garaufis urged administration lawyers to delay the program’s re-enrollment deadline, saying “you can always deport them later.”
When lawyers stood firm on the deadline a few weeks later in his courtroom, he professed his personal outrage from the bench.
“It’s unacceptable to me, quite frankly, as a human being and as an American. I’m just glad I was born in Patterson, New Jersey, and not Mexico City,” Garaufis said, before characterizing as “heartless” the administration’s position.
Appointed by President Clinton, Garaufis more than exposed his own bias by contending no one would be hurt by a DACA delay, especially those “who are sweating about whether someone is going to come knocking on their door and send them back to a country that they don’t even know and where they don’t speak the language.”
In oral arguments made in January, Garaufis again confused his judge’s bench with the pulpit when he preached against what he termed the President’s “recurring, redundant drumbeat of anti-Latino commentary.”
“It’s not just an ad hoc comment that was overheard on an open mic,” the judge said, according to CNN. “It’s not just that somebody at [Immigration and Naturalization Service] INS said something derogatory about Mexicans. This came from the top.”
Maybe Judge Garaufis should spend less time lecturing and more time studying immigration law, then he would know that in 2003 the INS was abolished and its functions dispersed across agencies within the newly created DHS.