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A federal judge in Maryland ruled on Monday that President Donald Trump had a right to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The decision breaks with two other federal judges from California and New York, who previously ruled that Trump must partially revive DACA as suits against the administration play out in court.
On Monday, March 5, the day of the six-month deadline Trump imposed on Congress to find a solution to keep DACA recipients in the United States, Judge Roger Titus ruled against the challenge, and stated that while he did not agree with Trump’s decision, it was not his place to decide immigration policy. Titus also wrote in his opinion that he disagreed with the previous decisions made in California and New York, and that all courts reviewing DACA would “benefit from a prior generation’s wisdom regarding the separation of powers.”
“This Court does not like the outcome of this case, but is constrained by its constitutionally limited role to the result that it has reached,” Titus concluded his opinion. “Hopefully, the Congress and the President will finally get their job done.”
The ruling shut down a suit challenging the U.S. Department of Homeland Security filed by immigrant advocacy organization Casa de Maryland, as well as Dreamers and other organizations. In the suit, the plaintiffs argued that Trump unlawfully ended DACA, and that he violated multiple clauses within the Fifth Amendment.
Regardless of the constitutionality of DACA, Titus ruled, assuming that the Trump administration reasonably believes that the Obama-era executive action was unlawful, Trump did nothing wrong in “trying to avoid unlawful action,” and that his actions were not “arbitrary and capricious.”
Titus also emphasized the role of the executive branch to “exercise prosecutorial discretion” as well as the responsibility afforded to Congress by the Constitution to determine immigration policy.
“Although Congress has repeatedly failed to pass Dreamer legislation in the past, the ball is again in its court,” Titus wrote. “And with 87 percent of Americans favoring some sort of DACA-esque protections, the elected members of Congress should understandably feel the pressure now that the President has deferred to them—in short, Congress needs to get the job done now that their authority has been recognized by court decisions and the President.”
The California judge who issued the first injunction had mentioned Trump’s tweets on DACA and immigration as supporting the Dreamers’ argument for the injunction. However, Titus wrote that “as disheartening or inappropriate as the President’s occasionally disparaging remarks may be, they are not relevant to the larger issues governing the DACA rescission.”
“The result of this case is not one that this Court would choose if it were a member of a different branch of our government,” Titus wrote. “An overwhelming percentage of Americans support protections for ‘Dreamers,’ yet it is not the province of the judiciary to provide legislative or executive actions when those entrusted with those responsibilities fail to act.”