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DACA deadlines should be extended, federal judge says

DACA supporters protest outside Trump Tower in Manhattan

DACA supporters protest outside Trump Tower in Manhattan on Sept. 5, 2017. Photo Credit: TNS / Carolyn Cole

A Brooklyn federal judge on Thursday called for extending deadlines on President Donald Trump’s plan to wind down the program that allows immigrants in the U.S. illegally since they were brought as children to stay and work.

U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis, citing new tweets by Trump praising the so-called dreamers protected by the program, told a Justice Department lawyer he might intervene if the government doesn’t extend an Oct. 5 deadline for more than 150,000 of the 800,000 beneficiaries to reapply before the program expires.

“No one would be harmed by extending the deadline, certainly not the 800,000 who are sweating that someone will knock on their door and send them to a country they don’t even know with a language they don’t even speak,” said Garaufis at a hearing on the first legal challenge to Trump’s plan.

Justice Department lawyer Brett Shumate said the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was unconstitutionally instituted by the Obama administration, but Garaufis said that with Trump now calling on Congress to agree to enact it legislatively, firm deadlines weren’t defensible.

“You can always deport them later if you can’t reach agreement,” the judge said.

The program shields beneficiaries from deportation and gives them work permits. Trump and Attorney Gen. Jeff Sessions last week announced a plan to stop taking new applications and end it in six months, but said those whose two-year permits expire by March would have until Oct. 5 to extend them.

Over the last 24 hours, however, Democratic leaders Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said they cut a deal with Trump to extend the program legislatively. Trump, in a Thursday morning tweet, said “Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people?”

Garaufis, a Democratic appointee who previously expressed dismay about Trump’s travel ban, is hearing a suit brought by a DACA recipient over the Obama administration’s rules that is being refiled as a class action challenging Trump, and he has also been assigned a challenge from New York and other states.

He agreed to a schedule for hearing the government’s motion to dismiss the case by the end of the year, but told Shumate that in light of Trump’s tweets he wanted the Department of Homeland Security to say by Sept. 26 if it will delay the October deadline, giving the plaintiffs time to ask him for an order.

“It would be useful to take some of the pressure off,” Garaufis said. “We would give the Congress and the president the opportunity to work through some of the difficulties.”

Opponents of DACA say Obama had no constitutional authority to give work permits to illegal immigrants without Congress changing the law. The lawsuits say the Trump administration ended it without proper procedures and that Trump did it because he is biased against Mexicans.


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