Trump’s Immigration Agenda Hit With String Of Losses By Obama Judges

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Jason Hopkins Immigration and politics reporter
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  • Three federal judges across the U.S. ruled against immigration directives by the Trump administration Friday, setting their agenda back tremendously. 
  • The judges ruled against expedited removal of illegal aliens who recently entered the country, indefinite family detainment, and the reliance on databases for detainer requests. 
  • All three judges were appointed by former President Barack Obama, highlighting the influence judicial appointments have on the ongoing immigration battle. 

Three Obama-appointed judges ruled against various immigration initiatives by the Trump administration Friday, dealing blows to the president’s effort to control the border crisis.

In just a span of several hours, a judge in California ruled against the administration’s plan to detain migrant families indefinitely, another California judge blocked ICE from relying solely on  databases when issuing detainer requests, and shortly before midnight, a Washington judge barred fast-track removals of illegal aliens.

All three federal judges were appointed by former President Barack Obama, revealing the heavy weight judicial appointments play in the fight over immigration policy.

Judge Dolly Gee of the Federal District Court in Los Angeles, appointed by Obama in 2009, issued a preliminary injunction against the Trump administration’s attempt to detain migrant families for the entire duration of their court proceedings. Gee found that the plan still violates the Flores Agreement, which mandates the release of families after 20 days.

U.S. District Court Judge Andre Birotte Jr., appointed by Obama in 2014, issued a permanent injunction against Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) sole reliance on certain databases when lodging detainer requests to local law enforcement officials. A senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union said the decision dealt a “tremendous blow” to Trump’s deportation programs.

Mexican citizens fleeing violence, camp in a queue to try to cross into the U.S. to apply for asylum at Cordova-Americas border crossing bridge in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Sept. 22, 2019. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez

Mexican citizens fleeing violence, camp in a queue to try to cross into the U.S. to apply for asylum at Cordova-Americas border crossing bridge in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Sept. 22, 2019. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez

In a 126-page ruling issued shortly before midnight on Friday, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, appointed by Obama in 2013, issued a nationwide preliminary injunction against the administration’s fast-track deportation of illegal migrants. The expedited removal program allowed the government to quickly remove illegal aliens who entered the country within the last two years by bypassing immigration judges.

The Trump administration hit back hard against the string of rulings.

“For two and a half years, the Trump Administration has been trying to restore enforcement of the immigration laws passed by Congress. And for two and a half years, misguided lower court decisions have been preventing those laws from ever being enforced—at immense cost to the whole country,” White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement over the weekend.

The Department of Justice sent out three different public statements Friday, bemoaning each of the decisions that rolled back the immigration directives.

“The district court’s decision squarely conflicts with that express grant of authority and vastly exceeds the district court’s own authority. This ruling undermines the laws enacted by Congress and the Trump Administration’s careful efforts to implement those laws,” a DOJ spokesman said about the ruling on expedited removal. (RELATED: The Trump Administration Is Proposing To Slash The Refugee Ceiling To 18,000)

The courts’ strong influence on immigration policy has been long noted. Gee, for example, was the same federal judge who interpreted Flores in 2015 to not only apply to unaccompanied minors, but also to accompanied minors, i.e. family units, setting the stage for the immigration fight taking place today.

Immigration experts have continually cited Gee’s 2015 decision as the main instigator in the current border crisis. Thousands of immigrants every month, they argue, travel to the U.S.-Mexico border under the presumption that, if they bring a child, they will ultimately be allowed entry into the interior of the country.

The fights will likely land in the Supreme Court, where the Trump administration has found reprieve in the past.

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