On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor in Dallas indicated he was likely to block President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) process. The case was brought on by Kris Kobach, the conservative Kansas politician who helped draft a number of the country’s most draconian anti-immigration bills, on behalf of ICE Union Boss Christopher Crane and ten other officers and agents.
The lawsuit alleges the deferred action program will prevent ICE officers, employees, and agents from “fulfilling their sworn oath to uphold the law and defend the US Constitution.”
“The court finds that DHS [Department of Homeland Security] does not have discretion to refuse to initiate removal proceedings,” O’Connor wrote in the 38-page decision, Business Week reports.
Still O’Connor, who was appointed by President George W. Bush in 2007, said he can’t decide the case based on the arguments he’s heard so far.
“Accordingly, the court hereby defers ruling on the plaintiffs’ application for preliminary injunction until the parties have submitted additional briefing,” O’Connor said.
Even though O’Connor has not issued a decision in the case, Lorella Praeli, Director of Advocacy and Policy at United We Dream, says there is one thing that is clear.
“This case is an unsurprising politically-motivated move from longtime opponents of sensible immigration policy on a program that is working exceptionally well. For United We Dream leaders and young immigrants across the country, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals [program] has been a resounding success and the result of a hard-earned political victory by the immigrant youth movement,” Praeli said.
“We are confident that the legal basis for DACA is solid. Over 100 law professors have already said that the president has the authority to enact DACA and leaders from both political parties have already weighed in on the matter,” Praeli went on to say.
Writing for the Huffington Post, David Leopold, the former president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said even if O’Connor rules against DACA “the question is not whether ICE can exercise discretion, but when.”
Even if this judge rules in Crane’s favor – which appears likely – and even if his ruling is later sustained all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, at most the Department of Homeland Security will have to add another unnecessary bureaucratic process – at taxpayer expense – to the DACA process and the exercise of prosecutorial discretion. As the judge wrote, “However, DHS’s ability to exercise its discretion at later stages in the removal process by, for example, cancelling the Notice to Appear or moving to dismiss the removal proceedings is not at issue in the present case, and nothing in this Order limits DHS’s discretion at later stages of the removal process.”
“So rest assured, DACA is alive and well,” Leopold went on to say.