The Trump administration won a victory in court Monday on its plan to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, but not before a federal judge criticized the White House and Congress for failing to work together.
The ruling is a relatively symbolic win after two other federal courts have already halted the President's effort to end the program nationwide.
Still, the administration is hailing the ruling as evidence that it has the authority to terminate DACA, a program that protected young undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children from deportation, as President Donald Trump decided in September.
In a 30-page opinion, Maryland District Judge Roger Titus rejected a challenge to the termination of DACA, saying the administration did in fact have a "reasonable" justification given it concluded the program was likely unlawful.
Previous judges have found the opposite -- that there's a plausible argument the government's reasoning in this case was "arbitrary and capricious."
The Supreme Court last week declined the administration's request to leapfrog the appellate courts and immediately consider the other judges' rulings, meaning until a further court rules in what will likely be several months, the administration must continue renewing two-year DACA permits.
Titus began his opinion with an unusual lamentation of the partisan nature of politics in this country, criticizing Congress and the administrations' inaction on a permanent solution for DACA participants.
"This case is yet another example of the damaging fallout that results from excessive political partisanship," Titus wrote.
"The highly politicized debate surrounding the DACA program has thus far produced only rancor and accusations," he added. "During the recent debate over the rescission of DACA, the program even turned into a bargaining chip that resulted in a brief shutdown of the entire federal government earlier this year."
He added: "The result of this case is not one that this court would choose if it were a member of a different branch of our government. This court does not like the outcome of this case, but is constrained by its constitutionally limited role to the result that it has reached. Hopefully, the Congress and the President will finally get their job done."
In a statement, Justice Department spokesman Devin O'Malley called the decision "good news" and criticized the rebukes from previous judges.
"The Department of Justice has long maintained that DHS acted within its lawful authority in making the discretionary decision to wind down DACA in an orderly manner, and we welcome the good news today that the district court in Maryland strongly agrees," O'Malley said. "Today's decision also highlights a serious problem with the disturbing growth in the use of nationwide injunctions, which causes the Maryland court's correct judgment in favor of the government to be undermined by the overbroad injunctions that have been entered by courts in other states."
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