President Trump lost more than just the House of Representatives in last week’s midterms.
Just as the hot anti-immigrant rhetoric failed to woo voters, it also failed to convince the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) should be ended.
The appeals court rejected the Trump administration’s claim that DACA was illegal. Two of the three-judge panel ruling believed the administration was likely in violation of administrative law. A third judge, indicated there may be a violation of the Constitution’s equal protection clause.
The ruling has emboldened the University of California, which took the lead in higher ed to defend DACA in court, and now it’s encouraging all recipients to renew their DACA grants immediately.
“The court’s decision ensures that the 800,000 beneficiaries of DACA will be able to retain or renew their grants and continue to legally work, study, serve in the military, and live in the United States,” a statement from UC’s Office of the President read.
The University of California was joined in the suit defending DACA by California itself and three other states, the City of San Jose and a group of DACA recipients known as Dreamers.
“[The] decision is yet another strong message from our nation’s courts that the government’s attempt to rescind DACA was unlawful,” the UC statement continued. “The government’s only justification for rescinding DACA — that the program itself is legally flawed — is unfounded. Now that the appellate court has definitively rejected this argument, the university calls on the administration to stop its efforts to rescind the program.”
But that’s unlikely.
Even before the ruling, the Trump administration had already sought to have the case heard before the Supreme Court, where a new probable five-vote conservative majority was formed with the addition of Brett Kavanaugh last month.
The Kavanaugh factor may be the reason why on the heels of the DACA ruling, the administration announced its plan to change asylum laws limiting when and where foreign nationals could apply for asylum at the border.
Critics say that requiring asylum seekers to go to specific ports of entry oversteps the president’s authority on immigration law under the Immigration and Nationality Act.
The likely final arbiter could once again be the Supreme Court.
But the new Democratic House could play a vital role in coming up with a solution.
“DACA recipients deserve better than to see their life prospects rise and fall based on events in litigation,” UC’s statement concluded. “The university continues to call on Congress to enact permanent protections for the Dreamers, including a path to citizenship.”
Trump and the GOP-led Congress were close to a compromise earlier this year before that effort failed. A Democratic majority in the House may have enough pull to reach a compromise in 2019 even with a GOP majority in the Senate.
A lot will depend on how patient Trump can be for cases to get through the legal process. Of course, he may find the patience if he sees Kavanaugh as his ace-in-the-hole at the Supreme Court.
Still, it’s much easier if he simply learned the basic lessons of the midterms.
Americans heard the president’s tone in the final weeks of the campaign and punished him at the ballot box.
The message is clear. Racist anti-immigrant hate isn’t going to reverse or stop diversity in America.
Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator. He writes for the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund at https://www.aaldef.org/blog/. Follow him on Twitter @emilamok