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On Tuesday, a third federal judge rejected the Trump administration’s justification for ending the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program, which protects undocumented immigrants who came to the country illegally as children, known as “dreamers.”

“DACA’s rescission was arbitrary and capricious because the Department failed adequately to explain its conclusion that the program was unlawful,” U.S. District Judge John Bates, a George W. Bush appointee, wrote in his opinion. “Neither the meager legal reasoning nor the assessment of litigation risk provided by DHS to support its rescission decision is sufficient to sustain termination of the DACA program.”

In November, the University filed the joint complaint in federal court in Washington, D.C., alongside Maria De La Cruz Perales Sanchez '18 and Microsoft, launching a legal challenge to the Trump administration’s ending of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

The government has 90 days to “better explain its rescission decision,” according to the opinion. After that, “the administration’s order to rescind DACA will be vacated.”

“We are delighted that the court agreed with us that the government’s termination of the DACA program “was unlawful and must be set aside,” wrote President Christopher L. Eisgruber ‘83 in a statement. “While the decision does not fully resolve the uncertainty facing DACA beneficiaries, it unequivocally rejects the rationale the government has offered for ending the program and makes clear that the DHS acted arbitrarily and capriciously.”

He urged Congress to enact a “permanent solution” that offers dreamers the protection and the certainty that they deserve.

“We hope this decision will help provide new incentive for the legislative solution the country and these individuals so clearly deserve,” wrote Microsoft President Brad Smith in a statement. “As the business community has come to appreciate, a lasting solution for the country’s DREAMers is both an economic imperative and a humanitarian necessity.”

Sanchez, a senior and a co-plaintiff in the suit, said she has been frustrated and disappointing to see minimal concrete action from policymakers to provide  permanent policy solution in the aftermath of the DACA repeal.

"It’s been even more taxing to fight for a policy we already had and that was taken away in an unfounded, purely capricious manner. Within that context, today’s decision left me with a variety of emotions. The better opinion would have been to immediately restore all of the original DACA, as the current decision prolongs the uncertainty that has terrorized undocumented youth once again," she said. "While the news today brings some relief, I know that the fight for justice is unfortunately far from over, yet undocumented migrants are far from giving up."

Appointed by George W. Bush, Bates is the first Republican appointee to rule against Trump’s move to wind down DACA.

In the brief, Bates also opened up the possibility that the Trump administration could be ordered to take new applications for the renewal of DACA benefits, filed on or before Oct. 5, 2017, by those whose benefits were set to expire on or before March 5, 2018.  No prior judge has required that new applications be taken.