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"Activist Judges and 2020"


















Samuel C. Winchester | February 6, 2019                                                    Blog Archive: [link]


Who is William Haskell Alsup? You may not know who he is, but Alsup is at the center of the border and immigration debate we are having in this country right now. So who is he? 

Bill Alsup is a Southern Democrat from Mississippi who was appointed to the federal bench by another Southern Democrat from Arkansas, who also happens to be named Bill. Alsup has been a San Francisco resident since he graduated from Harvard Law in the early 1970s, and he has been a District Judge for the Northern District of California since Clinton put him on the bench in 1999. On January 9, 2018 Judge Alsup issued a ruling that would set in motion the political gridlock happening in Washington at this very moment. 


President Trump did have a plan to fix the immigration issue, meaning the issue of the Dreamers and the border. He has always spoken of the Dreamers and the border interchangeably, and his plan was to always leverage one for the other. When Obama signed DACA in the middle of his reelection campaign in 2012, it may have been viewed as a tactic to secure the Hispanic vote. Regardless of if that is true, or not, no one can deny that it was a short-term fix for Dreamers. For the love of God! The first ‘DA’ in DACA stands for “DEFERRED ACTION”. It literally means further action must be taken later, preferably legislative action. Congress failed to reach a compromise on DACA during Obama’s second term, and Trump campaigned on getting it done. It was a centerpiece of his campaign. 


The fact that immigration and “the wall” were centerpieces of his campaign cannot be understated, because it also explains the current gridlock on this issue. If Trump is able to fulfill this campaign promise it would be a huge win. It would show he is the successful dealmaker he has always claimed to be, and it would be a great success to run on in his reelection campaign in 2020. 


President Trump’s plan was to rescind Obama temporary order on DACA and leverage a permanent solution for funding for the wall. In the early part of 2018, Congress had this deal. It was $25 billion for the wall (a little less than the Senate approved in 2013) and a permanent legal status for Dreamers. This is where Judge Alsup comes in. 


The University of California, lead by Janet Napolitano, former Secretary of Homeland Security under Obama, sued the Trump administration over his decision to rescind Obama’s DACA order.  They claimed the rescission of DACA violated rights of DACA recipients. Judge Alsup issued a temporary injunction halting President Trump’s rescission of DACA, throwing the entire deal into disarray. 


The Trump administration appealed, but the applet court that heard the appeal was the 9thCircuit, also out of San Francisco. On November 8, 2018 the 9thCircuit upheld Judge Alsup’s injunction. 


The president and both sides in Congress have since backed away from the deal while the injunction remains in place. The Supreme Court will hear this case at some point, although they have declined to hear it in the current session. It is almost universally believed the Supreme Court will rule in the President’s favor, as they did when they overruled the 9thCircuit on the president’s travel ban. Putting it off may be the Court’s way of giving Congress more time to do their job, and finally come to a legislative compromise. 


The frustrating part is they already had a deal. Had it not been for activist judges like Judge Alsup, and those on the 9thCircuit the deal would be done. It’s ridiculous to say Obama can make sweeping immigration policy by executive order and no future president can rescind it. It’s ridiculous to say it will violate the rights of Dreamers if the president enforces the law, as he is sworn to do.  


Democrats have unconstrained power in California, and if California were a liberal body the Bay Area would be the heart. They take pride in their sanctuary city policies, and their resistance to the president. It’s ridiculous to think the University of California, based in Oakland, and four activist judges out of San Francisco can halt an immigration deal for the entire nation, but that is exactly what happened. I’m not saying there is a conspiracy, but I’m not saying there is not. 


During the government shutdown the President proposed a scaled down deal to extend DACA for 3 years in exchange for $5 billion for the wall, plus a few other goodies he threw in to sweeten the pot. It was a deal he believed both sides could get behind, but Democrats scoffed at the deal before it was publicly announced. They now say not a dime for the wall, no matter what. 


The government was only funded for three weeks and Congress has about a week left to reach a deal. At this point it is more about 2020 than anything else. Democrats do not want to give the president any legislative victory, and the game now is obstruction. Without the rescission of DACA the president has no leverage, although he does have a trump card (pun intended). If Democrats do not make a deal, and the president moves forward on building the wall by declaring a national emergency, or through 10-U-S-C-284, DACA recipients will be left with nothing while they anticipate the Supreme Court hearing the case on the future of their status.    


It is a dangerous game Democrats are playing, but it is not a game. Many lives are on the line, and there are real consequences for them. 


Samuel C. Winchester


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