But the move was stopped in its tracks earlier this month, at least for the moment. Judge William Alsup of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California placed an injunction on the plans to rescind DACA on Jan. 9, arguing that the Trump administration's decision was "based on the flawed legal premise that the agency lacked authority to implement DACA and faced litigation." In other words, the new administration claimed that the Obama-era policy had to be terminated because it exceeded the agency's statutory and constitutional authority, which Alsup ruled was not the case.
The judge called the rationale by the government counsel "spin" throughout the 49-page ruling saying that, even if true, it failed to properly weigh the objectives of DACA and the hundreds of thousands of immigrants who rely on the policy.
"Plaintiffs, brought to America as children, faced a tough set of life and career choices turning on the comparative probabilities of being deported versus remaining here," Alsup said in the ruling. "DACA gave them a more tolerable set of choices, including joining the mainstream workforce."
A nation-wide survey of DACA recipients conducted last year found that the average age of its beneficiaries, so-called Dreamers, is 25 years old, and that the average age when the recipients arrived in the country was 6.5 years old. Data from the Migration Policy Institute found that among the Dreamers in Santa Clara County, 77 percent came from Mexico and Central American countries.
While the ultimate fate of DACA remains murky, the immediate result of the injunction is that DACA recipients, of whom 24,000 are estimated to live in Santa Clara County, can now reapply for legal status. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on Jan. 13 that it is again accepting DACA renewal forms, which can be found online at uscis.gov.
At a press conference last week, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said that DACA is still "alive and well" despite plans by the Trump administration to sunset the policy by March 5 — a move that would have left hundreds of thousands of people "in total limbo and in fear of deportation."
"The preliminary injunction that we got in the case allows all of those Dreamers who had applied for DACA in the past to continue forward with their DACA status, which means renewal, re-authorization of their work permits, moving forward with their education and, we hope, more certainty in their lives which have been thrown into chaos by the actions by Trump," he said.
Joining Becerra is Janet Napolitano, president of the University of California system, who is among the plaintiffs suing to stop the rescission of DACA. She said the beneficiaries of the policy were raised in America, think of the country as home, and many are now pursuing degrees in higher education in the state's top public universities. She said the federal government did not seek a stay in the case, meaning Trump's announcement last year ought to be ignored for now.
"DACA is resuscitated as of now, as if there had not been an announcement on Sept. 5 of 2017," she said.
On Friday, Senate Democrats refused to vote on a resolution to continue funding the government if it didn't include an extension for DACA, causing a government shutdown that lasted three days. The shutdown ended after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell agreed to allow DACA legislation to reach the Senate floor for consideration, though it remains unclear whether House Republicans would support legislation enshrining the DACA policies into federal law.
DACA renewal workshops are being planned throughout the region including the North County, but none were scheduled as of Monday. Residents seeking an appointment to help fill out renewal forms are being asked to call Immigration Services of Mountain View at 650-938-4911.
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