A Brooklyn federal judge hearing the first legal challenge to President Donald Trump’s plan to end a program allowing immigrants who were brought illegally to the United States as children said Thursday that deadlines for the wind-down should be extended in light of new Trump tweets praising the so-called Dreamers.
U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis told a Justice Department lawyer that 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, he was prepared to find it “arbitrary and capricious” and intervene.
“No one would be harmed by extending the deadline,” Garaufis said, “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.”
Justice Department lawyer Brett Shumate said the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) order was unconstitutionally instituted by the previous 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 the program in six months, but said those whose two-year permits expire by March would have until Oct. 5 to extend them.
Over the past 24 hours, however, Democratic leaders Sen. Chuck Schumer and Rep. Nancy Pelosi 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 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’s efforts to end the program. Garaufis has also been assigned a challenge brought by New York and 14 other states.