DACA Update: D.C. Federal Judge Rules Against Trump Administration’s Decision to End DACA—But Judge’s Order Comes with a Major Caveat

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The judge stayed his own ruling, giving DHS 90 days to reissue a new memorandum to adequately explain its conclusion that DACA was unlawful and unconstitutional

 

The Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) has been a popular topic here on the Kuck | Baxter Immigration Partners Blog. And for good reason—the status of DACA is precarious at best with DACA recipients being sent on an awful legal and political rollercoaster ride of uncertainty and anxiety. Accordingly, we have tried to keep our readers and clients up to date on all the latest twists and turns on this highly contentious immigration law topic.

You can catch up on our previous DACA status update blog posts herehere, and here. If you are a new to this blog or are not familiar with DACA, be sure to check out our brief summary of DACA in Footnote 1 (see below).[1]

The latest twist and turn in Trump administration’s DACA saga occurred on April 24, 2018 when Judge Bates, a District of Columbia federal judge, delivered what many believe to be toughest blow to the Trump administration’s efforts to end DACA protections for young adult immigrants.

Some key takeaways from Judge Bates’s decision:

  • The Judge said the White House was “arbitrary and capricious” in trying to end the DACA program that began in 2012 during the Obama Era.[2]
  • The Judge also said that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) failed to give an adequate rationale as to why the DACA program was unlawful.[3]
  • Judge Bates issueda final judgment on April 24, 2018 that “(a) grants, in part, summary judgment in favor of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients and organizations that sued to reverse the Trump administration’s termination of the DACA program and (b) orders that the memorandum terminating the program be vacated.[4]  This order was issued in two related cases, NAACP v. Trump and Princeton v. Trump.[5]
  • Essentially the Judge’s decision would allow the DACA program to “time travel” back in time to how DACA was before September 5, 2017. (Before September 5, 2017, DACA was accepting first-time applications for DACA rather than only renewal DACA applications from current DACA holders whose benefits will expire on or before March 5, 2018, as long as their renewal applications are received by October 5, 2017).
  • But here’s the critical caveat in Judge Bates’s decision: the court stayed (a legal term that means paused) its own order to vacate DHS’s decision to rescind the DACA program for 90 days (up until July 23, 2018).
  • Judge Bates reasoned that this was “to afford DHS an opportunity to better explain its view that DACA is unlawful.”[6] If DHS cannot come up with a better explanation during this 90-day period, then Judge Bates wrote that DHS “must accept and process new as well as renewal DACA applications.”[7]
  • So up until July 23, 2018, “the Secretary of Homeland Security or her delegate may reissue a memorandum rescinding DACA, this time providing a fuller explanation for the determination that the program lacks statutory and constitutional authority. Should the Department fail to issue such a memorandum within 90 days, however, the Rescission Memo will be vacated in its entirety, and the original DACA program will be restored in full. This means, among other things, that the agency will be required to resume accepting initial DACA applications and applications for advanced parole.”[8]

The government is expected to appeal Judge Bates’s decision. But given the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court in January 2018 declined to take up a key case about DACA, it appears that the Trump administration is being left with only a few dwindling options. But this by no means that DACA will be safe. DACA’s rollercoaster existence during the past year has taught us that anything can happen.

With this in mind, the immigration lawyers and DACA lawyers at Kuck | Baxter believe that while we can hope for the best we must prepare for the worst.  Do you want or currently have temporary protection from deportation under DACA? Looking to renew your DACA status? What will you do if DACA is taken away? What’s your plan to stay in this country, legally work, and seek out citizenship? A Kuck | Baxter immigration attorney or DACA attorney can help you develop a plan and zealously advocate on your behalf for a wide range of immigration law matters.

To learn more about Kuck | Baxter Immigration Partners and the immigration law services we offer our clients or to schedule your consultation with one of our immigration attorneys, contact us using our website’s online contact form or you can reach us at:

 

Kuck | Baxter Immigration Partners LLC

365 Northridge Road

Suite 300

Atlanta, GA 30350

Tel: (404) 816-8611

 

Kuck | Baxter Immigration Partners LLC

367 Prince Avenue #3

Suite K

Athens, GA 30606

Tel: (404) 816-8611

 

 

[1] In 2012, President Obama issued an executive order for the implementation of the DACA program. This immigration program shields qualified immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally as children, protecting recipients from deportation from the U.S. for two years (and then subject to renewal). While DACA does not provide a pathway to U.S. citizenship, DACA recipients do receive benefits such as the ability to legally remain in the country and the opportunity to get work permits. With the ability to legally work, DACA recipients have been able to pay for higher education and in some states legally drive. Also, in some states, the DACA program has opened up access to in-state tuition and state-funded grants and loans. And depending on where they live, DACA recipients may also qualify for state-subsidized health care. DACA status has been issued to approximately 800,000 people, whose ages now fall between 14 and 35.

 

[2] https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/04/25/605573039/federal-judge-upholds-daca-calling-white-house-decision-to-rescind-it-capricious

[3] https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/04/25/605573039/federal-judge-upholds-daca-calling-white-house-decision-to-rescind-it-capricious

[4] https://www.nilc.org/issues/daca/dc-court-orders-daca-termination-memo-vacated/

[5] https://www.nilc.org/issues/daca/dc-court-orders-daca-termination-memo-vacated/

[6] http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/conlaw/2018/04/another-federal-judge-enjoins-presidents-daca-recission.html

[7] http://time.com/5253724/donald-trump-daca-judge-unlawful/

[8] https://ecf.dcd.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/show_public_doc?2017cv2325-70 (see pp.53)

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