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White House calls DACA ruling ‘outrageous’

President Donald Trump answers questions in the lobby

President Donald Trump answers questions in the lobby of Trump Tower, Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017 in New York. Credit: AP

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Wednesday condemned a federal judge’s decision to temporarily reinstate an Obama-era program that has provided legal cover to about 800,000 young immigrants known as “dreamers,” vowing to appeal what he described as an “unfair” ruling.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge William Alsup issued an order in San Francisco mandating that the Trump administration preserve the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program as several legal challenges on the initiative make their way through the court system.

The program is set to expire March 5, after the Trump administration announced in September that it would not extend a presidential order signed by President Barack Obama in 2012 that established the program. Trump has argued Obama’s order was “unconstitutional” and contends the program, which provides temporary legal status to immigrants who were brought illegally to the United States as minors, should be authorized through an act of Congress.

Alsup, in his 49-page ruling, said the Department of Homeland Security’s “decision to rescind DACA was based on a flawed legal premise,” and he cited the president’s tweets to note that Trump expressed support for the program just days before announcing its rollback.

“We seem to be in the unusual position wherein the ultimate authority over the agency, the Chief Executive, publicly favors the very program the agency has ended,” Alsup wrote.

Alsup said that while the U.S. government does not have to accept new applications into the program, it must continue to process renewal applications submitted by those already enrolled.

Trump, in a tweet Wednesday morning, said the ruling “shows everyone how broken and unfair our Court System is when the opposing side in a case (such as DACA) always runs to the 9th Circuit and almost always wins before being reversed by higher courts.”

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals did not render Tuesday’s DACA decision — Alsup serves on the U.S. District Court bench — but it did rule against Trump’s controversial travel ban last year, before handing the administration a slight victory in November when it ruled the ban could apply to travelers from six of the 11 mostly Muslim-majority countries Trump sought to restrict.

A Department of Justice spokesman, responding to Tuesday’s court decision said: “The Justice Department will continue to vigorously defend this position and looks forward to vindicating its position in further litigation.”

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, in a statement, called Alsup’s decision “outrageous,” noting that it came hours after Trump convened a meeting with a bipartisan group of lawmakers at the White House to discuss a deal aimed at restoring the program.

Trump, in a meeting with 25 lawmakers on Tuesday, called on Congress to pass a “bill of love” that would both allow the so-called dreamers to keep their protected status, while also funding a border wall along the U.S. and Mexico border. Democrats and Republicans have generally agreed on saving the DACA program, but Democrats have balked at funding a wall as part of the deal.

On Wednesday, House Republicans introduced a bill that ties the program’s renewal with funding for the wall, while Democrats in both the House and Senate mounted protests to demand the immediate passage of the DREAM Act, a measure they have long advocated which would allow immigrants brought to the United States as children to stay and work in the country, and give them a path to U.S. citizenship.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), the Senate minority leader, said Wednesday that the latest court order “in no way diminishes the urgency of resolving the DACA issue.”

“The fact remains the only way to guarantee the legal status for dreamers is to pass DACA protections into law and do it now,” Schumer said in a Senate floor speech. “For that reason, a resolution to the DACA issue must be part of a global deal on the budget.”

With Tom Brune.

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