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Judge: Have politicians, not court, settle immigration issue

NEW YORK (AP) — A judge said Thursday he’d prefer that politicians in Washington, not the courts, settle the issue of what to do about thousands of immigrants brought into the United States illegally when they were children.

U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis is overseeing a case in which immigration advocates want to challenge President Donald Trump’s decision to end a program that has protected some young immigrants from deportation. But at a Brooklyn court hearing, he said fast-moving political developments over a legislative solution might mean the court shouldn’t waste its time.

The judge read a Trump tweet from earlier in the day that he said shows the Republican president wants to find relief for immigrants protected by the program, called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. And he repeatedly challenged Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brett Shumate to persuade the government to extend an Oct. 5 deadline for DACA recipients to renew their applications.

Shumate said he was authorized to say the government was “actively considering whether to extend the deadline” in light of hurricanes that ravaged Florida and Texas.

The judge said his hope would be “that the executive branch would put a voluntary halt to the termination process so as to find a legislative solution so the courts are not involved.”

Shumate said the decision was made to “wind down” the program and delaying the deadline for renewals risked a later crush of applications that would overwhelm employees tasked with handling them.

The judge criticized the government’s use of “arbitrary deadlines” and said “it would be useful to take some of the pressure off the various people, these good accomplished young people who the president talks about with admiration.”

“We will absolutely take your message back to our clients,” Shumate replied.

To reinforce his arguments, the judge suggested that he could conclude that the government’s treatment of the DACA recipients was illegal, considering Trump’s words of reassurance toward them.

“I have an obligation to protect the 800,000 from an arbitrary and capricious implementation of a legislative rule, which this may or may not be,” the judge said. “The court has deep concerns about how this will play out if there’s not flexibility.”

He added that he was worried about “the 800,000 people who are sweating whether somebody is going to knock on the door and send them to a country they don’t even know, where they speak a language they don’t even speak.”

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