Judge Nicholas Garaufis, a federal judge in Brooklyn, ruled yesterday that a lawsuit seeking to preserve DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, can continue.
The judge’s ruling struck down the Justice Department’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit, which claims that a coalition of immigration lawyers and a group of Democratic state attorneys general have not proven that the Trump administration’s decision to roll back the program in September was racially motivated.
In his order rejecting the motion, Judge Garaufis cites President Donald Trump’s “racially charged language,” adding that his use of “racial slurs” and “epithets” both as a candidate and as president had created a “plausible inference” that the decision to curb DACA violated the Constitution’s equal protection clause.
A federal judge has ruled that a lawsuit targeting Trump's decision to end DACA can proceed, despite a push by the Trump admin to dismiss the suit. https://t.co/tiQoEZ7bDj
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) March 29, 2018
The decision to rescind DACA, Judge Garaufis added, violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), a federal law which governs the way in which the federal government’s administrative agencies may propose and establish regulations and prohibits repealing policy on capricious––rather than rational––notions.
While the order was not, as The New York Times notes, “a conclusive win for the plaintiffs,” it allows the case to move forward toward a summary judgment decision or a trial.
“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.”
Judge Garaufis did note that looking for racial bias, especially in “campaign-trail statements,” could result in an “evidentiary snark hunt,” he acknowledged that his court could not “bury its head in the sand when faced with overt expressions of prejudice.”
The plaintiffs reacted to the ruling with glee.
“We’re pleased the court ruled that our substantive equal protection and APA claims can proceed,” said Amy Spitalnik, a spokeswoman for Eric T. Schneiderman, the New York State attorney general. “We look forward to continuing our litigation to protect Dreamers and New York’s businesses, economy, and institutions.”
Jessica Hanson, a lawyer for the National Immigration Law Center, said that the ruling “again acknowledged that our brave plaintiffs present important claims, including that the decision to terminate DACA was rooted in Trump’s bias against Latinos.”