Federal judge orders reinstatement of DACA

Federal judge orders reinstatement of DACA

A judge for the US District Court for the District Court of Columbia [official website] on Friday reversed [text, PDF] the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) [official website] decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, finding the decision was arbitrary and capricious.

The decision comes after a previous ruling gave DHS 90 days to provide adequate support for the decision. DHS submitted a new memorandum in June in support of the decision, referred to as the Nielsen Memo [text, PDF]. The court found that the Nielsen Memo “fails to elaborate meaningfully on the agency’s primary rationale for its decision: the judgment that the policy was unlawful and unconstitutional.”

The court found it “mystifying” that the Nielsen Memo “ignore[d] the 2014 OLC Memo laying out a comprehensive framework for evaluating the lawfulness of nonenforcement policies in the immigration context.” Instead, the Nielsen Memo relied on a letter and court decision related to the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) litigation. The court found that the Nielsen Memo did not adequately support statements declaring that differences between DACA and DAPA were not sufficiently significant to make DACA lawful. An injunction against the DAPA was previously affirmed by the Supreme Court. The court reiterated a previous decision that there are “meaningful distinctions between DAPA and DACA, which include DAPA’s open-ended nature, broad scope, and apparent conflict with express provisions of the INA.”

The court also found that the Nielsen Memo failed to demonstrate “true cognizance of the serious reliance interests at issue here.” Although the Nielsen Memo mentions that beneficiaries heavily rely on DACA, the memo failed to specify how they actually rely on DACA.

DHS was given a 20-day stay in order to provide the agency with time to determine how they wish to appeal the decision. The court also specified that this decision does not mean that DHS does not have the authority to rescind DACA, just that they have failed to adequately a rational explanation for the decision.

US Attorney Jeff Sessions first announced [JURIST teport] the intention to dismantle DACA in September 2017. A federal judge temporarily blocked [JURIST Report] the discontinuation of DACA in January. The decision to rescind DACA was first ruled [JURIST Report] arbitrary and capricious by the court in April. The Attorneys General from seven states filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] against DACA in May, calling DACA unlawful.