WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday blasted the federal court system as “broken and unfair” after a judge blocked his administration’s move to end the program protecting young immigrants brought to the United States illegally by their parents, commonly known as “Dreamers.”
A U.S. District Court judge in San Francisco ruled late on Tuesday the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which Trump has said he will end, should remain in effect until legal challenges brought in multiple courts against the administration’s order are resolved.
Under the administration’s plan, the program would be phased out over a two-year period, beginning in March.
“It just shows everyone how broken and unfair our Court System is when the opposing side in a case (such as DACA) always runs to the 9th Circuit and almost always wins before being reversed by higher courts,” the Republican president wrote on Twitter.
U.S. District Judge William Alsup, who made the ruling, is in the Northern District of California. Appeals of decisions by that court are commonly handled by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which also reviews appeals of rulings by District Courts in the U.S. West, Hawaii and Guam.
The ruling could complicate ongoing negotiations between congressional Democrats and Republicans trying to reach agreement on a deal to resolve the legal status of nearly 700,000 young immigrants covered by the program. While the court’s initial ruling strengthened the hand of Democrats, it also drew sharp battle lines between the two sides and could serve to harden positions rather than encourage compromise.
At a White House meeting on Tuesday before the court ruling, Trump urged lawmakers to quickly reach a bipartisan DACA deal before moving on to even tougher negotiations on a comprehensive immigration bill. White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said the issue should be resolved as part of the legislative process.
“President Trump is committed to the rule of law, and will work with members of both parties to reach a permanent solution that corrects the unconstitutional actions taken by the last administration,” Sanders said after the court ruling, referring to the administration of Democratic President Barack Obama.
Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer also urged a quick legislative solution. The talks on DACA have become embroiled in negotiations on funding for the federal government, which expires on Jan. 19. Failure to reach an agreement on spending could result in a government shutdown.
“The ruling last night in no way diminishes the urgency of solving the DACA issue,” Schumer said on the Senate floor. “On this, we agree with the White House, who says the ruling doesn’t do anything to reduce Congress’ obligation to address this problem now.”
John Cornyn, the Senate’s No. 2 Republican, said the ruling would not affect congressional negotiations. He was to meet later on Wednesday with other leaders to “try to come up with a timetable and format” for the talks.
”We’re reading the court’s opinion. It strikes me as wildly wrong,“ Cornyn told reporters. ”If President Obama can create the Deferred Action program, then certainly President Trump can uncreate it or end it.”
Cornyn said various attempts in the past few months to strike a deal “were basically getting nowhere.”
The administration did not immediately appeal the ruling, but the Justice Department said in a statement it would “continue to vigorously defend this position, and looks forward to vindicating its position in further litigation.”
In his ruling, Alsup said the federal government did not have to process new applications from people who had never before received protection under the program. However, he ordered the government to continue processing renewal applications from people who had previously been covered.
A majority of those protected under DACA are from Mexico and Central America and have spent most of their lives in the United States, attending school and participating in society.
Trump put their fate in doubt in early September when he announced he was ending the DACA program created by Obama, which allowed them to live and work in the United States legally.
Additional reporting by Blake Brittain and Susan Cornwell; Writing by John Whitesides; Editing by Mohammad Zargham, Sue Horton and Jonathan Oatis