Eric Schneiderman for Attorney General

“Daily News: Trump’s ‘Anti-Latino Commentary’ Could Play into Brooklyn Judge’s Decision in DACA Case”

January 31, 2018

As published by The New York Daily News, on January 30, 2018.

What the President says could be used against them in a court of law.

President Trump’s been spouting off “a recurring, redundant drumbeat of anti-Latino commentary,” according to a Brooklyn federal judge — and it’s something the feisty jurist says he’ll have to consider when deciding if a halt on Dreamers’ protections is illegal.

“It’s not ordinary. It’s extreme, it’s recurring, it’s vicious,” Brooklyn Federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis said Tuesday during arguments over the demise of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. “It’s not what we see from our leaders, hopefully.”

The judge said ruling on the end of a program that gave crucial protections to some 800,000 people brought into the country illegally as children wasn’t some run of the mill decision where he could overlook isolated comments “by bureaucrats in Washington or New York on a bad hair day. So, I don’t accept the premise that it’s something we can just ignore.”

New York State, a coalition of 16 other attorneys general and Dreamers argue Trump’s sudden revocation of DACA in September was fueled by anti-Latino bias and improperly upended lives without explanation. The vast majority of recipients are Latino, they noted. The plaintiffs are asking Garaufis to block DACA’s termination.

Washington State Assistant Attorney General Colleen Melody said it’d be a different story if DACA recipients were from Norway. “Those people tend to be white?” Garaufis deadpanned to courtroom chuckles.

A San Francisco federal judge issued a similar injunction earlier this month. The feds want the Supreme Court to fast track a ruling, but the high court needs to decide if it will even hear the California case.

Dreamers and the states urged Garaufis on Tuesday to move ahead with his case, rather than wait to see what the Supreme Court did. The injunction they seek would cover an even broader swath of people.

Justice Department lawyers said Garaufis should hold off. They want the Brooklyn case thrown out, arguing administration officials were in their rights to wind down a program in an orderly way.

Claims about Latino “animus” were “quite remarkable,” federal government lawyer Stephen Pezzi said — that would mean any policy decision affecting a “statistically significant” group of people was open to attack.

That’s when Garaufis stopped him to say he couldn’t close his eyes to the fact the comments came “from the top.” Pezzi said Trump’s been “generally supportive” of dreamers with his comments.

Even if Garaufis didn’t agree with the program’s halt, Pezzi said that still didn’t make the government decision “irrational, arbitrary and capricious.”

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman watched the roughly 90 minutes of arguments in the packed courtroom.

After, he told reporters, “we all benefit from the Dreamers being here.”

Dreamer Eliana Fernandez, a mother with 5- and 10-year-old children at home, said “our lives depend upon this ruling.”