Federal Court Greenlights New DACA Challenge

August 13, 2020

– Juan Gastelum, National Immigration Law Center (NILC), 213-375-3149, [email protected]
– Yatziri Tovar, Make the Road New York (MRNY), 917-771-2818, [email protected]
– Ramis Wadood, Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic (WIRAC) at Yale Law School, 203-432-4800, [email protected]

Federal Court Greenlights New DACA Challenge

NEW YORK — Today, a federal court in Brooklyn approved a request from Make the Road New York and immigrant youth with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) to sue the Trump administration over its newest attempt to end DACA.

At a court hearing earlier today, plaintiffs in Batalla Vidal v. Wolf explained that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS’s) July 28, 2020, memo, which drastically altered DACA, suffers from several legal and constitutional defects. Not only did the Trump administration once again sidestep the procedures required to take such an action, but it also stripped DACA applicants of their due process rights. Moreover, plaintiffs questioned the authority of Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf to alter the DACA program in the first place, since he is not serving lawfully in his position.

The court granted the plaintiffs’ request to file an amended complaint challenging the new DACA memo in the coming weeks. The court also indicated that the parties should quickly move forward with additional briefing and ordered the parties to come back to the court by next week with a proposed schedule. The court granted a similar request from 16 states and the District of Columbia.

“We applaud the judge’s decision to allow our amended complaint to challenge Trump’s latest reckless effort to end DACA,” said Javier H. Valdés, co-executive director of Make the Road New York. “The Trump administration’s refusal to comply with the Supreme Court decision and to fully restore DACA — places hundreds of thousands of immigrant youth at risk of deportation and denies new applicants an opportunity for temporary but life-altering relief. For the last three years, we have fought against Trump’s cruel attacks on undocumented youth, and we are ready to continue to fight tooth and nail to defend and protect immigrant youth and all immigrants.”

Batalla Vidal v. Wolf was the first legal challenge to President Trump’s 2017 termination of DACA. That case — in which the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), Make the Road New York (MRNY), and the Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic (WIRAC) at Yale Law School represent six DACA recipients and MRNY — culminated in a monumental victory at the U.S. Supreme Court in June, in which the Supreme Court held that the Trump administration violated federal law by improperly terminating DACA in 2017.

“The Trump administration’s newest attack on DACA is as unlawful as its first,” said Armando Ghinaglia, law student intern in the Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic at Yale Law School, who argued for the plaintiffs today in court and who himself has been a DACA recipient. “By issuing this memo so haphazardly, the Trump administration sidestepped its legal and constitutional obligations. Our plaintiffs won’t let that stand.

Under the July 28 DHS memo, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will reject all first-time DACA applications. While USCIS will continue to process DACA renewal applications, renewals and work authorization will be granted only for one year at a time instead of for two years. While the per-application fee remains the same, the change effectively doubles the fee for DACA renewals.

“We’ve been fighting Trump’s unlawful attempts to dismantle DACA from the beginning, and our fight continues,” said Araceli Martínez-Olguín, supervising attorney at the National Immigration Law Center. “As Trump doubles down on his efforts to harm immigrant youth and immigrant communities, even in the middle of a public health and economic crisis, we remain steadfast to ensure that immigrant youth are secure here at home. We’ll keep fighting alongside our plaintiffs and communities to stop Trump’s harmful, divisive, and hateful actions.”

Over the past eight years, more than 700,000 immigrant youth have been able to use DACA to work, attend school, better support their families, and make even greater contributions to their communities. As a result of the Trump administration’s unlawful attacks on DACA, an estimated 300,000 eligible immigrant youth have been denied the opportunity to apply for it.