Citing Trump’s Rhetoric, Judge Allows Lawsuit Against DACA Order To Proceed

A Federal Judge In New York City is allowing a lawsuit against the President's DACA order to go forward, and he based part of his ruling on the President's own rhetoric.

Relying in no small part on the President’s own rhetoric in speeches and on Twitter, a Federal Judge in New York City is allowing a lawsuit against President Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to go forward:

Citing President Trump’s “racially charged language,” a federal judge in Brooklyn ruled on Thursday that a lawsuit seeking to preserve a program that protects hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants from deportation could continue.

The order, by Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis of Federal District Court in Brooklyn, was the strongest sign so far of judicial support for the program known as DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which has for months been the subject of a heated debate in Congress.

In October, lawyers for the Justice Department filed a motion to dismiss the Brooklyn lawsuit, claiming that the plaintiffs in the case — a coalition of immigration lawyers and a group of Democratic state attorneys general — had failed to make a persuasive case that DACA was rolled back in September because of a racial animus toward Latinos.

But in his order rejecting the motion to dismiss, Judge Garaufis pointed directly at Mr. Trump, noting that his numerous “racial slurs” and “epithets” — both as a candidate and from the White House — had created a “plausible inference” that the decision to end DACA violated the equal protection clause of the Constitution.

“One might reasonably infer,” Judge Garaufis wrote, “that a candidate who makes overtly bigoted statements on the campaign trail might be more likely to engage in similarly bigoted action in office.”

In February, Judge Garaufis issued an injunction ordering the Trump administration to keep DACA in place as he considered the legal merits of the suit. That injunction echoed a similar one issued in January by Judge William Alsup of Federal District Court in San Francisco, who is hearing a separate but related suit.

The ruling on Thursday took the legal process in New York one step further, strongly hinting at what Judge Garaufis thought about the suit’s central claims. It did not offer a conclusive win for the plaintiffs, only allowing the case to move forward toward a summary judgment decision or a trial. But it was notable for its strong language suggesting that there may have been an improper racial motivation for rescinding the DACA program.

Of the nearly 800,000 immigrants who are protected by DACA, referred to as Dreamers, more than 90 percent hail from Latin America, and almost 80 percent are originally from Mexico. In his order, Judge Garaufis specifically mentioned Mr. Trump’s statements about Mexico sending “criminals” and “rapists” to the United States and his verbal attacks on an American-born jurist of Mexican descent, Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel of Federal District Court in San Diego. Judge Garaufis also cited Mr. Trump’s assertions — both before and after his inauguration — that Latino immigrants were “animals” and “bad hombres.”

While the judge noted that looking for racial bias, especially in “campaign-trail statements,” was a potentially fraught process that could result in an “evidentiary snark hunt,” he concluded that his court could not “bury its head in the sand when faced with overt expressions of prejudice.”

In a separate prong of the ruling, Judge Garaufis said that the decision to rescind DACA violated the Administrative Procedure Act, or APA, a federal law that bars the government from repealing policies arbitrarily, capriciously or without a rational basis.

As noted above, Judge Garaufis, who was appointed to the Federal bench by Bill Clinton in 2000 and assumed Senior Judge status in 2014, did narrow the scope of the lawsuit to some degree, but this is mostly a technical ruling that doesn’t have any real impact on the case. This narrowing also does not impact the scope of the injunction that Judge Garaufis issued in February, roughly a month after a similar injunction was issued against the President’s DACA order in January by a District Court Judge in San Francisco. Thanks to both of these injunctions, the DACA program continues to be in place, although there’s always a danger that this temporary stay could come to an end at any moment.

This isn’t the first time that President Trump’s rhetoric, both as a candidate and as President, has been used against one of his actions in a court proceeding, of course. Many of the rulings that have been handed down relating to the travel ban that is aimed primarily at nations that are predominantly Muslim have cited the President’s statements as a candidate as well as comments made after he became President by both Administration officials and others to support the finding that there was an illegal discriminatory intent behind the order. Just as there was plenty of evidence to support the contention that the real motivation for the travel ban was a disdain for Muslims in general, there is plenty of evidence to show that the President’s positions regarding immigration are based in racial and ethnic bias against Latinos in general and Mexicans specifically. As Judge Garaufis noted, the best examples of this can be found in his comments about Mexican immigrants being “criminals and rapists,” a claim he made in his very first speech as a Presidential candidate, and in his attacks on a Judge Gonzalo Curiel, an American-born Jurist who happens to be of Mexican descent. Based on this and other rhetoric, it seems fairly clear that much of Trump’s position when it comes to immigration is based in racial or ethnic bias. Whether Trump actually believes what he says is rather irrelevant, what’s important is that he campaigned on this rhetoric and that he is quite obviously making policy decisions based on this rhetoric. Now, it’s coming around to bite him in Court. It couldn’t happen to a more well-deserving guy.

As far as this case goes, this ruling means that the case can now go forward toward what would be a final ruling on the merits. Given the tone of Judge Garaufis’s rulings both in February and this month, it seems apparent that the government is going to have an uphill fight if it is somehow going to win on the merits after having been defeated twice in preliminary matters. After that, of course, the matter would likely be appealed by the losing party to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, although there is at least some chance that there may be an effort to bypass the Circuit Court of Appeals by asking the Supreme Court to take the case on a direct appeal from District Court. As we’ve seen with recent cases dealing with other subjects, though, this is an unusual procedure and not something typically granted by the Court. In either case, though, it likely means that President Trump’s DACA Order is likely to remain on hold for quite some time.

Here’s the opinion:

Battala Vidal Et Al v. Nielsen Et Al Opinion by Doug Mataconis on Scribd

FILED UNDER: Borders and Immigration, Donald Trump, Law and the Courts, Politicians, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. MBunge says:

    This is fairly ridiculous. It seems to me a government can do whatever it wants with immigration policy, given that it involves non-citizens, as long as due process is followed. But water doesn’t become dry if a racist says it’s wet and fire doesn’t become cold if a bigot says it’s hot. And a policy valid on its merits can’t become invalid because you don’t like who proposed it.

    This is like a judge overturning a conviction NOT based on any evidence but simply because the convicted is black and the arresting officer is a subscriber to National Review.

    Mike




    2



    20
  2. TM01 says:

    Calling something a mandate means it’s really a tax.

    Rhetoric means nothing.




    0



    10
  3. @MBunge:

    You obviously haven’t read the opinion.




    8



    0
  4. Mister Bluster says:

    “One might reasonably infer,” Judge Garaufis wrote, “that a candidate who makes overtly bigoted statements on the campaign trail might be more likely to engage in similarly bigoted action in office.”

    Never forget that Donald Trump is the leader of the REPUBLICAN Party.




    9



    0
  5. teve tory says:

    “I don’t know what that means, a ‘Community College’.” -Donald Trump




    3



    0
  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MBunge:

    It seems to me a government can do whatever it wants with immigration policy,

    Ummm no. No it can’t. If you had anymore than a 1st grade understanding of govt you’d know that.

    @TM01: Words beget action. Or have you not noticed?




    3



    0
  7. Mikey says:

    @MBunge:

    This is like a judge overturning a conviction NOT based on any evidence but simply because the convicted is black and the arresting officer is a subscriber to National Review.

    You support Trump, a President who has repeatedly attacked and tried to discredit the premier Federal law enforcement agency simply because an agent had political opinions Trump didn’t like.




    5



    0
  8. teve tory says:

    @MBunge:

    This is like a judge overturning a conviction NOT based on any evidence but simply because the convicted is black and the arresting officer is a subscriber to National Review

    What if the judge’s name was “Gonzalo” “Curiel”, and therefore he was “mexican”. Would his decisions be fair then?




    1



    0
  9. teve tory says:

    Trumpers are buying into a comprehensive conspiracy called “The Storm”.

    After months, the conspiracy theory has come to encompass Pizzagate, the Seth Rich murder, the Clinton Foundation, MS-13, and many more right-wing touchstones. Despite The Storm’s vastness, though, the message is simple: Trump is pulling off a string of victories over his enemies, but in secret; and everything that looks like it’s bad news for Trump is actually, secretly, good news.




    6



    0
  10. Mikey says:

    @teve tory: I’ve been reading about that. It’s a level of brainless, inane conspiracy-mongering I to which thought even Trumpists weren’t capable of sinking.

    Obviously, I mis-overestimated them.




    4



    0
  11. CSK says:

    @Mikey:

    Apparently Roseanne Barr is a big proponent of this idiocy. Numerous high-ranking Democrats are purported to be members of a satanic child sex slave ring, and Trump is secretly planning to round them all up, having rescued hundreds of children per day already. Obama and Hillary Clinton will be sent to Gitmo.

    I didn’t make up the above.




    5



    0
  12. Mikey says:

    @CSK:

    I didn’t make up the above.

    I know. I certainly wish you had, though. My dwindling faith in humanity can’t take much more.




    2



    0
  13. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @MBunge:

    It seems to me a government can do whatever it wants with immigration policy, given that it involves non-citizens, as long as due process is followed

    Stick to your day job (whatever that might be) and leave the law to the lawyers 🙄




    4



    0
  14. An Interested Party says:

    @teve tory: I notice that this alleged conspiracy is being spread by someone on the 4Chan website, a known habitat of racists, bigots, and other such trolls…how shocking that an idea very friendly to the Orange Mange would emanate from such a cesspool…




    2



    0
  15. Charon says:

    Here is a piece that says Trump is clueless about what DACA is or how it works, based on his most recent tweets about it.

    http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/04/president-trump-apparently-doesnt-know-what-daca-is.html




    0



    0
  16. Charon says:

    @Charon:

    I suppose all Trump knows, or needs to know about DACA is that his base of bigots hates it, so his best play politically is to attack it.




    0



    0
  17. CSK says:

    He went on a Twitter rampage about DACA this morning: NO MORE DACA DEAL!!!!!!




    2



    0