Another west coast federal judge is going toe to toe with Trump and his administration. The California judge on Tuesday ordered the president’s administration to turn over emails, letters, memos and other materials related to the decision to halt the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
U.S. District Judge William Alsup, based in San Francisco, not only gave the order but seems to offer legal advice about winding down the program, which grants quasi-legal status and work permits to so-called Dreamers.
Through a series of lawsuits filed over the decision, the judge said the administration had waived its attorney-client privilege by claiming the decision was driven by concerns that the program is unconstitutional.
“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 first response from the Justice Department came in a one page opinion from Attorney General Jeff Sessions. He called the program “an open-ended circumvention of immigration laws that was an unconstitutional exercise of authority by the Executive Branch.”
The San Francisco judge said that was not enough.
“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over any materials that bore on whether or not DACA was an unlawful exercise of executive power and therefore should be rescinded,” the judge concluded.
There are now plaintiffs in five separate lawsuits over the DACA termination. One plaintiff is former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. She now serves as president of the University of California and is demanding that the administration hand over documents related to the decision.
On Tuesday, Judge Alsup ordered the federal government to supply the materials which were used to decide to end DACA. And at the same time, the judge demanded that the administration supply all documents considered by former DHS Secretary John Kelly, now the White House chief of staff, when he decided in a February memo to leave the program intact.
The west coast judge, who is an appointee of former President Bill Clinton, ordered the materials to be provided to the court by October 27th.
What are your thoughts about this next legal battle that the Trump administration is facing?