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Supreme Court Leaves DACA in Place, For Now

18 Jun

On June 18, 2020, the Supreme Court of the United States decided that the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act when rescinding the Obama Administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.  Accordingly, the Court decided that DACA will stand. 

The DACA program provides for deferred action on removal and grants work authorization to certain undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States illegally as children and who have not committed any serious criminal offenses.   

The Trump Administration had sought to end the DACA program on the grounds that the program itself violated the law because President Obama allegedly did not have the authority to confer employment authorization benefits on undocumented immigrants.  Through a series of legal challenges, DHS was temporarily enjoined from ending the program on the ground that the plaintiffs challenging the DACA rescission would likely prevail in their legal challenges arguing that the rescission of DACA violated the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) because it was not supported by an adequate and well-reasoned explanation. 

The Trump Administration appealed the injunctions, and today the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the rescission of DACA must be set aside and the program remains in place.  The court held that the failure of DHS to consider the reliance interests of those who had applied for and received DACA benefits and the failure to weigh those interests against the relevant policy concerns prior to terminating the program was arbitrary and capricious.

The Supreme Court’s decision enables the roughly 700,000 DACA recipients to continue to renew their applications for deferred action and employment authorization.  The decision also allows DACA recipients who work in the healthcare industry to continue their needed services during the pandemic. 

Notably the Court’s decision acknowledged that DHS has the authority to rescind the DACA program, but emphasized that DHS had failed to do so properly because the DHS had violated the Administrative Procedures Act by failing to consider alternatives and weigh the particular reliance interests and therefore had failed to provide adequate justification for the DACA rescission.   

Because the Court acknowledged the authority of DHS to rescind DACA in a manner compliant with the Administrative Procedures Act, the Trump Administration may pursue the policy through a new approach to the rescission that seeks to correct prior failures; however, for now, DACA remains a viable program for the 700,000 recipients who benefit from it. 

Applicants seeking assistance in renewing DACA benefits should contact their Foster immigration attorney.  Foster will continue to monitor decisions impacting on eligibility for immigration benefits and will make future updates available via our website at www.fosterglobal.com.