Federal judge urges Trump to push back DACA deadline

United States federal judge in Brooklyn on Thursday urged the Trump administration to extend its deadline for young, undocumented Caribbean and other immigrants to apply to stay in the US under a program by former President Barack Obama that Trump recently announced that he was rescinding.

Last week, United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced, on Trump’s behalf, that immigrants shielded from deportation by the program, which is known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, would have until Oct. 5 to reapply for protected status.

But the federal judge, Nicholas G. Garaufis, said the deadline was too soon and requested it be pushed back so that the president and Congress have time to fix the program through legislation, according to the New York Times.

“The concern of the court is that Oct. 5 is three weeks away,” Judge Garaufis said at an hour-long hearing in Federal District Court in Brooklyn. “It would make a lot of sense from various vantage points to extend this deadline.”

DACA has protected hundreds of thousands of children and young adults who were brought illegally to the United States by their parents, noted the Times.

Judge Garaufis said the only ones who would be “harmed” by keeping the deadline in place were the young immigrants themselves.

While the judge’s statement was not a court order, it was “a potent hint” of his position toward the decision to rescind DACA, a matter that arrived in his court last week when immigration lawyers filed a federal complaint saying that ending the program was an “arbitrary, capricious” move “based upon animus toward Latinos,” according to the Times.

It said the complaint, which revived a prior lawsuit filed in support of DACA last year, was the first legal assault on the program’s repeal.

A day after it was filed, a group of 16 Democratic state attorneys general submitted a similar suit opposing the rollback, which has also ended up in front of Judge Garaufis, the Times said.

At the hearing, Judge Garaufis, who was appointed by former US President Bill Clinton, said that “the ultimate outcome of this case should not be heard by a court of law — it should be handled by the political branches.”

But he sternly warned that if Trump and Congress were unable to reach a solution, he might be compelled to “protect” the 800,000 young immigrants who stand to be affected, the Times said.

It noted that early Thursday morning, Trump posted a message on Twitter that seemed supportive of DACA and the immigrants it protects, who are commonly known as “Dreamers.”

“Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military? Really!” Trump wrote.

Judge Garaufis quoted the tweet as he suggested to the lawyer who argued on the government’s behalf that Trump himself apparently wanted to save DACA and should be allowed to do so without imposing a strict and arbitrary deadline, the Times said.

“There’s no harm, in this court’s view, in letting the legislative process play out and extending the deadline,” Judge Garaufis said.

But the federal government lawyer, Brett Shumate, a deputy assistant attorney general, said that any move by Judge Garaufis to change the deadline could be considered “interference with the executive branch’s prerogatives,” according to the Times.

Shumate said the government had set the deadline because some Republican state attorneys general had threatened to sue to end the program.

He also said that the suit seeking to preserve DACA had “fundamental flaws,” without identifying them, but promised that the government would likely file a motion to dismiss the suit, according to the Times.

United States Democratic leaders on Wednesday night declared that they had struck a deal with Trump to quickly extend protections for young, undocumented Caribbean and other immigrants and to finalize a border security package that does not include the president’s proposed wall, according to reports.

Senator Minority Leader Charles “Chuck” Schumer, of New York, and the House of Representatives Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, of California, said in a joint statement that they had a “very productive” dinner meeting with the president at the White House that focused on DACA.

“We agreed to enshrine the protections of DACA into law quickly, and to work out a package of border security, excluding the wall, that’s acceptable to both sides,” they said.

Trump has given Congress six months to find a legislative solution to extend the protections on DACA that Obama granted by executive order.

Stating that America was built by immigrants, a Haitian legislator in New York last week denounced Trump’s decision to end DACA as racist and ignorant.

“President Trump’s decision to end the DACA program ignores that history and dims the beacon of hope that America represents,” New York State Assembly Member Rodneyse Bichotte, the daughter of Haitian immigrants, told Caribbean Life on Thursday. “It is morally wrong and it is based on ignorance and racism.”

Bichotte, who represents the 42nd Assembly District in Brooklyn, noted that Obama introduced DACA in 2012 for undocumented minors to receive a two-year renewable deferred action from deportation and the ability to apply for a work permit, attend college, and serve in the military.

In an echo of the campaign against Trump’s effort this year to ban travelers from parts of the Muslim world, a group of 16 attorneys general — all Democrats — filed suit in Federal District Court in Brooklyn, New York, claiming that Trump had improperly upended DACA, according to reports.

Led by Attorneys General Eric T. Schneiderman of New York, Maura Healey of Massachusetts and Bob Ferguson of Washington, they alleged that Trump’s shift was driven by racial animus toward Mexican Americans and that the Trump administration failed to follow US federal rules governing executive policy making, reported the New York Times.

Rather than making the announcement himself, Trump, uncharacteristically, dispatched US Attorney General Jeff Sessions to deliver the bad news to the nation and the world.

“This reckless and cruel decision constitutes a vicious attack on hundreds of thousands of young women and men who want to attend college, find jobs, and participate in our civil society,” US Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, who represents the 9th Congressional District in Brooklyn, told Caribbean Life. “Their contributions – and the contributions of all immigrants – to this nation are enormous, and will only increase in the coming years.”

New York City Councilmember Jumaane Williams, the son of Grenadian immigrants, said that, “foremost, nothing this administration does should come as a surprise to people of goodwill.

“To formally rescind the DACA program and order the Dept. of Homeland Security to stop processing any new applications sends a continued message that some lives matter more than others in the eyes of this president,” said Williams, representative for the largely 45th Council District in Brooklyn. “We should not take these types of steps lightly. History teaches us that deportations and the threats of them have been used as a measure to dehumanize, ostracize and as prelude to legitimize horrors that followed.”

New York State Assemblywoman Diana Richardson, the daughter of St. Martin and Aruba immigrants, said that Trump’s “move to force thousands of individuals who have worked hard to be productive members of society is now pressuring them to retreat back to the shadows.”

Richardson said the 43rd Assembly District in Brooklyn that she represents is “home to many immigrants,” adding that “this action taken by the Trump administration poses a real issue for our community.”

Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, who traces his roots to Puerto Rico, described as “an affront to everything we stand for in Brooklyn,” Trump’s decision to revoke DACA, stating that one third of all residents in the borough are immigrants.

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