Trump Revives Bid to End Dreamers Program in Court

(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump renewed his push to end an Obama-era program that protects almost 700,000 undocumented immigrants in the U.S. from deportation, arguing to federal appellate judges in New York on Friday that a lower-court halting of his plan was improper.

At issue is an executive order by former President Barack Obama called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which shields people brought to the U.S. illegally as children. Trump’s former Attorney General Jeff Sessions described Obama’s initiative as an “unconstitutional exercise of authority by the executive branch.”

In March, U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis blocked the Trump administration from ending the policy, DACA and allowed lawsuits against the U.S. to continue, citing “racially charged language” from the president. A federal court in San Francisco also temporarily ordered a halt to the administration’s plan.

On Friday, the three-judge panel closely questioned lawyers for both sides about the motivations for the suit, asking plaintiffs if they’d filed the suits in a form of "judge shopping" to win rulings in their favor and if the government was pursuing the case in order to win a ruling declaring DACA unconstitutional.

The judges didn’t issue an immediate decision and didn’t say when they would issue a ruling.

Mark Stern, a lawyer for the government, argued that the courts -- including the appeals court -- don’t have the authority to rule on the Department of Homeland Security’s 2017 decision to end DACA.

“There’s nothing in the law that requires the agency to maintain the policy,” Stern said.

Anisha Dasgupta, a lawyer with the New York state Attorney General’s office, who was representing the 16 states and the District of Columbia that sued the government, said the administration had proposed two conflicting arguments. The department had determined that DACA was “legally unlawful,” but was now saying the courts don’t have any authority to second-guess its decision, Dasgupta said.

“It sounds like you’re suggesting what they want is a judicial determination that DACA is unlawful, and that’s their real goal in the litigation?” Judge Denny Chin asked. “Is that what you’re saying?"

“That’s right,” Gupta said. “They wanted to tell the public that they lacked the authority to continue with an overwhelmingly popular policy with far-reaching economic benefits.”

“This is starting to get into politics,” Judge Dennis Jacobs said.

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