A federal judge in Brooklyn has ripped as “heartless” the Donald J. Trump administration’s refusal to extend its deadline for young, undocumented Caribbean and other immigrants to apply to stay in the United States under a program by former President Barack Obama that Trump recently announced that he was rescinding.
United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced earlier this month, 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 their two-year protected status.
United States Justice Department lawyers told Brooklyn Federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis on Tuesday that the Trump administration is sticking with the deadline, according to the New York Daily News.
“It’s unacceptable to me, quite frankly, as a human being and as an American. I’m just glad I was born in Patterson, New Jersey, and not Mexico City,” Garaufis responded. “You can’t come into court to espouse a position that is heartless.”
There are some 800,000 DACA immigrants in the United States, also known as “Dreamers,” with more than 150,000 affected by the forthcoming deadline, according to immigration advocates.
When Garaufis met weeks earlier with lawyers for the government and Dreamers fighting the halt, he strongly urged a pause on the renewal deadline, the Daily News said.
US Justice Department lawyer Brett Shumate said on Tuesday that the decision to stick with the deadline was “not made lightly,” adding that the purpose was to kick off an “orderly wind down” of the program.
The judge said DACA’s end would not only affect its estimated 800,000 recipients — it would affect their families, employers and communities.
He said the recipients were “making the country stronger,” arranging schedule for the sides to file their arguments on the case, which will stretch into January, the Daily News reported.
Immigration lawyers have filed a federal complaint saying that ending DACA was an “arbitrary, capricious” move “based upon animus toward Latinos,” according to the New York 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 group of 16 Democratic state attorneys general have also 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 United States 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 Trump, ironically, has posted a message on Twitter that seemed supportive of DACA and the immigrants it protects.
“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.
In the interim, United States Democratic leaders have 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 has 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. “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.