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Federal Judge Orders Trump Administration to Turn Over DACA Documents

— October 18, 2017

A federal judge in California ordered the Trump administration to turn over all legal documents related to its decision to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

The order, according to, was delivered by U.S. District Judge William Alsup of San Francisco.

Alsup’s decision seems to have been spurred forth by the White House’s claim that its hand was forced over concerns of DACA’s constitutionality.

Since his inauguration in January, President Trump has had a rocky relationship with the beneficiaries of DACA, who are frequently referred to as ‘Dreamers.’

Despite one of his focal campaign promises being to terminate DACA, the commander-in-chief seemed to have a change of heart only weeks into his tenure. Throughout spring and summer, Trump sought to assuage the concerns of Dreamers, telling them to “rest easy” as he had a “big heart” for those who worked hard and honestly.

However, in the face of an impending lawsuit led by the conservative attorneys general of eleven states, the president rescinded DACA in early September.

At first, Trump pressured Congress to quickly come up with a feasible and fair solution for Dreamers.

Over the course of the past month, his perspective seems to have shifted drastically. After appearing to making a deal with Democratic leaders, the president has since reneged. Trump has asked for border wall funding – among other demands – in exchange for signing off on any legislation legalizing or otherwise protecting the precarious situation of Dreamers.

Obama listens to a DACA recipient in 2015. The program was intended as a solution by the Obama administration for illegal immigrants who were brought to the United States as young children. Image courtesy of Susan Walsh, AP.

Now Judge Alsup is demanding that the government give some clarification.

“Defendants argue that [the Department of Homeland Security] had to rescind DACA because it exceeded the lawful authority of the agency,” Alsup wrote. “They cannot, therefore, simultaneously refuse to disclose the legal research that led to that conclusion. Plaintiffs are entitled to challenge whether this was a reasonable legal position and thus reasonable basis for rescission. In making that challenge, plaintiffs are entitled to review the internal analyses that led up to this change in position.”

The Justice Department has attempted to respond.

A one-page memo released by the office of U.S. Attorney Jeff Sessions called DACA “an open-ended circumvention of immigration laws that was an unconstitutional exercise of authority by the Executive Branch.”

Alsup didn’t find that explanation enough to arrive at a verdict favoring the Oval Office.

“Defendants have waived attorney-client privilege over any materials that bore on whether or not DACA was an unlawful exercise of executive power and therefore should be rescinded,” he wrote.

Politico reports that five separate lawsuits have demanded the administration release documents related to the rescinding of DACA – one of which is being led by former Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, whose now serving as president of the University of California.

Alsup has ordered the defendants – the federal government – to provide the requested information by the end of the month.


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