Appeals judges dismissive of both sides in DACA dispute

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NEW YORK (AP) — Federal appeals judges in New York seem content to let the Supreme Court help define what the government must reveal about ending a program shielding young immigrants from deportation.

A three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments Thursday about whether the government must reveal more about how it reached its decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. The program protects about 800,000 people, including some brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

The arguments are related to two civil cases in Brooklyn federal court that are seeking to force the government to turn over documents that may explain President Donald Trump's decision to end the program.

Circuit Judge Gerard E. Lynch suggested waiting until the Supreme Court rules soon in a similar San Francisco case, saying the high court's findings in the case might give guidance for what kind of documents and other evidence lawyers should be able to obtain from the government.

The Supreme Court last week temporarily blocked a judge's order requiring the Trump administration to turn over all emails, letters and other documents it considered before ending the program. It planned to quickly consider the government's challenge to the ruling.

Deputy Assistant Attorney General Hashim M. Mooppan noted that five justices believed the government would prevail in the end.

Lynch asked Mooppan how a court could ascertain whether the government acted in an "arbitrary and capricious" manner in shutting down the program if it didn't see some of the documents or other evidence that led to the decision.

Mooppan said it was a decision that government officials could make as they did because it was within their discretion.

Josh Rosenthal, a staff attorney at the National Immigration Law Center, urged the judges to uphold a ruling by a Brooklyn judge requiring the government to turn over some documents.

Lynch questioned whether the legal arguments Rosenthal provided mean that anytime the Justice Department changes its policies, a court can be asked to decide whether it was appropriate.

Rosenthal noted that it was a policy decision that affected a substantial number of people.

Lynch and Circuit Judge Christopher F. Droney both questioned why it doesn't make sense to wait until the Supreme Court rules.

"When they do, we'll be in much better position to decide the case," Lynch said.

Lawyers for DACA participants said the New York cases were much different than the San Francisco case and that fewer documents had been requested.

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