DC Judge Backpedals On His Own DACA Ruling; Says Trump Can Deny New Requests

US District Court judge John Bates walked back his January ruling forcing the Trump administration to restart the Obama-era DACA deportation amnesty program, ruling that the government does not have to accept brand new applications, reports the Washington Times

Judge John D. Bates acknowledged the legal mess that’s arisen around DACA and said he didn’t want to make it worse, so he issued a partial stay of his own ruling.

That means that while illegal immigrant “Dreamers” who already have had DACA protections can apply for renewals, no brand new applicants can apply to start the process.

Judge Bates also delayed part of his previous ruling that would have allowed those with DACA to apply for special protections known as advance parole permission to travel outside the U.S. and then return — which can, in some cases, turn into a pathway to citizenship. -Washington Times

Hundreds of DACA recipients were found to have exploited the advance parole loophole under the Obama administration, only to find it shut down by Trump. The government argued that restarting DACA would cause a flood of more than 100,000 new applications and 30,000 advance parole requests - overwhelming US Citizenship and Immigration Services. Bates agreed. 

“Because that confusion would only be magnified if the court’s order regarding initial DACA applications were to take effect now and later be reversed on appeal, the court will grant a limited stay of its order and preserve the status quo pending appeal, as plaintiffs themselves suggest,” said Bates late Friday opinion.a

The ruling is likely to be appealed to the DC circuit court, which are already handling appeals in similar decisions handed down in New York and California challenging the Trump administration's decision to phase out DACA last year. 

Judge Bates

Bates, a 71-year-old Vietnam vet, Bush II appointee and senior judge on the federal district court in Washington D.C. famously dismissed a lawsuit brought by outed CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson against then-Vice President Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, "Scooter" Libby and Richard Armitage, who she accused of leaking her identity in revenge for her husband's public criticism of the Bush administration's case for invading Iraq.  

Libby was convicted of obstruction of justice, and had his 30 month prison sentence commuted by President Bush, while President Trump fully pardoned Libby in April. 

Bates also dismissed a 2010 challenge to President Obama's drone strike against dual American-Yemeni Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, sparking a fierce debate over the targeting of American citizens. 

And in 2013, Bates - a former FISA Court judge, authorized the NSA to restart the mass collection of internet metadata, including that of US citizens - despite acknowledging that the NSA had violated provisions of various laws.