The Trump administration cannot end the DACA program, which protects from deportation young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as young children, a federal appeals court held Thursday.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a nationwide injunction allowing DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, to remain in effect.
The Trump administration has already asked the Supreme Court to review the injunction.
The DACA program began in 2012. It allows noncitizens who entered the US as children, who have clean criminal records and who have met various educational or military service requirements to apply for two-year renewable periods of deferred action, which prevents their deportation.
In 2014, a related program for parents and lawful permanent residents that allowed them to seek deferred action for parents of DACA children was expanded.
In 2017, the Trump administration issued a memorandum rescinding DACA. A series of lawsuits followed by the Regents of the University of California and a group of states, led by California and a union and several DACA recipients, led by Dulce Garcia, who was brought to the U.S. at the age of four.
The appeals court said the DACA policy to protect children who had only known life in America changed in the Trump administration, which argued that the DACA program was illegal from its inception and thus could not continue.
“With respect for the Executive Branch, we disagree,” wrote Judge Kim Wardlaw. “The government may not simultaneously both assert that its actions are legally compelled, based on its interpretation of the law, and avoid review of that assertion by the judicial branch, whose ‘province and duty’ it is ‘to say what the law is,’” she wrote, citing the famed Marbury v. Madison ruling of 1803.
The panel held the decision to rescind DACA is subject to judicial review and that the DACA plaintiffs are likely to succeed in their claims that rescission of DACA was arbitrary, capricious and illegal.
“The Executive wields awesome power in the enforcement of our nation’s immigration laws. Our decision today does not curb that power, but rather enables its exercise in a manner that is free from legal misconceptions and is democratically accountable to the public,” Wardlaw wrote.
She was joined by Judges Jacqueline Nguyen and John Owens.
(Wardaw was the first Hispanic American woman appointed to a federal appeals court. Nguyen came to the U.S. at the age of 10, from Vietnam after the fall of the Republic of Vietnam in 1975.)
Case: Regents of UC v. USDHS, No. 17-5211