NEW YORK — A federal judge in New York who’s hearing two lawsuits challenging the cancellation of a program protecting some young immigrants from deportation said Tuesday that he can’t ignore President Donald Trump’s “vicious” anti-immigrant statements.
U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis told Justice Department lawyers that Trump’s “drumbeat” of statements and tweets about immigrants from Mexico and other countries are relevant to the case.
“In this country, in over 230 years, this is not ordinary,” Garaufis said during the hearing. “It’s extreme. It’s recurring. It’s vicious.”
Garaufis is hearing lawsuits seeking to overturn the administration’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
The plaintiffs say the decision to end the program was motivated by racial animus against Latinos and is not based on any rational justification.
“We don’t think the government has set out any rationale with clarity,” David Chen, a law student with Yale’s Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic, told the judge.
Lawyers for the administration deny that the Republican president’s decision was motivated by hatred. They say the DACA program was legally flawed and is vulnerable to litigation from Texas and the nine other states that urged the Trump administration to rescind the program in a June letter.
“In the face of the litigation risk it was decided to wind down the program,” Justice Department lawyer Stephen Pezzi said in court.
Trump has expressed sympathy for immigrants covered by the DACA program, who are often called Dreamers, and advocates hope the program will be renewed as part an immigration deal negotiated between the White House and Congress.
Further complicating the issue, a federal judge in San Francisco issued an order Jan. 9 keeping DACA in place. The plaintiffs in the New York case say the California order does not cover people who became eligible to apply for the program after Trump acted to rescind it.
By Karen Matthews for NATIONAL POST
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