National News

Justice Department Won’t Defend DACA in Texas-Led Lawsuit

Posted June 9, 2018 3:13 p.m. EDT

The Justice Department late Friday night responded to Texas’ request for an injunction in its challenge of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, agreeing with the state and several others that the program is “unlawful.”

Texas and six other states are suing the federal government to dismantle the immigration policy, which was put in place by the Obama administration in 2012. It enables individuals who were brought to the United States illegally as children to remain in the country without fear of deportation and grants them work permits.

While the Justice Department on Friday called the program “an open-ended circumvention of immigration laws,” it requested a delay if an injunction is issued. If ordered, the government argues, such an injunction would conflict with separate nationwide injunctions that have already been issued by courts in California and New York, and subject the agency to “inconsistent obligations.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whose tenure as the nation’s top law enforcement official has been broadly defined by his pursuit of immigration restrictions, remains deeply opposed to DACA.

The lawsuit, which was filed last month, asserts that the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas has the authority to “immediately rescind and cancel all DACA permits currently in existence because they are unlawful.” It also asks that the court block the United States “from issuing or renewing DACA permits in the future, effectively phasing out the program within two years.”

In the event that the court does grant the injunction, the Justice Department requested that the order be stayed for two weeks to allow it to seek emergency relief of the other injunctions. “A stay would facilitate the orderly resolution of the litigation over the DACA policy,” it said in its response.

Daniel M. Kowalski, an immigration lawyer, said early Saturday that the department’s filing highlighted the fact that only Congress is capable of achieving a meaningful solution to the current impasse. “Immigration policy made by court rulings, agency memos and executive orders is not adequate to the task at hand,” he said.