News & Politics

Trump's Racist Statements May Destroy His Case As 9th Circuit Hears DACA Appeal

The president is his own worst enemy when it comes to the courts.

Photo Credit: Diego G Diaz / Shutterstock

Donald Trump’s statements and tweets are dangerous for us all in terms of foreign policy, and they can also backfire in his own face, as may happen in the case of the three-judge 9th Circuit Court of Appeals panel that is mulling the January injunction that partially resurrected the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program:

Disparaging remarks that President Donald Trump made about Latinos and Mexicans surfaced Tuesday at a key appeals court hearing on the Trump administration's bid to end the program protecting so-called Dreamers—immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

As a three-judge 9th Circuit Court of Appeals panel considered whether to lift an injunction ordering the federal government to continue the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, Judge John Owens repeatedly raised the question of whether racial bias played a part in the Trump administration's decision to wind down DACA. Owens formulated his questions in constitutional terms, asking about "equal protection" claims [...].

"The president both before and after he took office referred to individuals from the very countries they're coming from as drug dealers, as druggies, as criminals, as bad individuals," said Mark Rosenbaum, an attorney representing six DACA recipients in the case. Remember, Trump’s claim that Mexican immigrants are criminals and “rapists” was literally his presidential campaign kick-off speech:

None of the three judges who heard the appeal Tuesday announced a clear position on the case. But Judges Kim Wardlaw and Jacqueline Nguyen both appeared to lean in favor of upholding the injunction.

"The more time that passes, the greater the reliance interest because now you’ve got thousands of people how have built their lives around the benefits conferred by this program," said Nguyen, an Obama appointee.

That’s hundreds of thousands of young immigrants, to be exact, who depend on their work permits, driver’s licenses, and protection from deportation to live their daily lives. Immigrant youth deserve the certainty of legislation like the DREAM Act, but Trump has torpedoed several bipartisan deals that would protect them—and he’s also trying to torpedo the injunction that has given them some peace of mind.

The 9th Circuit hearing comes as indicted Texas attorney general Ken Paxton has made good on his threat to sue the government over DACA (and there’s plenty of reason to believe Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III conspired with him on the threat). Additionally, another recent court decision could open up DACA to brand-new applicants—the current injunctions allow only current and former DACA recipients to renew their protections:

Wardlaw also noted that Texas and six other states recently filed a long-threatened lawsuit over DACA, seeking to block any new enrollments in the program. [San Francisco-based U.S. District Court Judge William] Alsup's injunction and the one issued by the Brooklyn judge don't require the government to allow new people into the program, but the Washington-based judge who ruled on a DACA suit said he would require the government to begin accepting new applications in July if officials don't come up with a better explanation for their rationale in ending it. (Only those who've been in the U.S. for more than a decade would be eligible, however.)

“Today the Trump administration yet again ignored the lives of approximately 700,000 immigrant youth by asking the 9th Circuit court to reinstate Trump’s termination of DACA,” tweeted the National Immigration Law Center. “The court can and should review the wrong legal conclusion that the Trump administration wrongfully relied on to end DACA and throw the lives of hundreds of thousands of Dreamers into chaos.”

This lawsuit was led by California attorney general Xavier Becerra, whose state is home to the largest population of DACA recipients in the country. “Dreamers who would have lost DACA status are our teachers, students, colleagues and neighbors,” he said. “DACA has made our nation a better place to live and work, and California was proud to secure a nationwide injunction earlier this year to protect Dreamers and the communities they enrich. We will do whatever it takes to help our Dreamers and ensure that the rescission of DACA does not stand.”


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