FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 14, 2020
Immigrant Youth Hail Court Decision Rejecting Trump Administration’s Assault on DACA
In August, New York immigrant youth amended their lawsuit to challenge Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf’s entire DACA memo
NEW YORK — Today, in the Batalla Vidal v. Wolf lawsuit, a federal court rejected the Trump administration’s latest attack on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The court found that the July 2020 memo issued by Chad Wolf, who claimed to be the acting secretary of Homeland Security, was invalid because he was unlawfully appointed. As a result of the decision, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security should return the DACA program to its initial form — reopening DACA to first-time applicants, restoring work authorization and renewals to two years, and making travel on advance parole available to DACA recipients without restrictions.
The court also granted the plaintiffs’ request to be certified as the representatives of a nationwide class of approximately one million DACA-eligible individuals across the country. The court directed the parties to contact the court “immediately” to schedule a conference regarding next steps and any relief stemming from the legal opinion.
In August, DACA-eligible youth, first-time applicants, and DACA recipients filed a legal challenge against the Wolf memo, arguing that it unlawfully and drastically diminished the program, and that it was issued without legal authority. Following the Supreme Court’s decision in June striking down the Trump administration’s attempt to terminate DACA, the government should have restored DACA to its original terms. Instead, it issued the Wolf memorandum, which prohibited first-time DACA applications, cut renewals from two years to one, and drastically curtailed the ability of DACA recipients to travel abroad on advance parole. The plaintiffs asked the court to invalidate this latest attack on DACA so that the government would be required to process first-time DACA applications, two-year renewals, and advance parole requests. The court’s ruling today now makes that relief likely.
“This is an incredible victory for DACA recipients and first-time applicants like me,” said Johana Larios, plaintiff in Batalla Vidal v. Wolf and member of Make the Road New York. “DACA has opened so many opportunities for hundreds of thousands of youth, and now I hope to be able to go through with my application. With DACA, I hope to be able to return to school and feel safe from being separated from my young children.”
Javier. H. Valdés, co-executive director of Make the Road New York, organizational plaintiff in the case, said, “As we look forward to a Biden administration, we know this victory is just the beginning. Not only must the new administration immediately protect DACA and TPS [temporary protected status] holders and reverse all of Trump’s nativist polices, but also provide swift relief and a path to citizenship for the millions of undocumented families across this country.”
“The court’s ruling today is a victory for the individual plaintiffs in this case and for Make the Road New York as well as for over one million DACA recipients and applicants,” said Medha Swaminathan, a law student intern with the Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization at Yale Law School. “The Batalla-Vidal plaintiffs are fighting for all Dreamers, their families, and their communities. The court’s decision today reflects the tenacity, strength, and determination of the DACA movement in ensuring that the government respects the law.”
“The court has reaffirmed what we always knew: Chad Wolf was not authorized to perform the functions of an acting secretary when he issued the July 28 DACA memo,” said Trudy S. Rebert, staff attorney at the National Immigration Law Center. “This is a victory for our courageous plaintiffs, DACA-eligible youth across the country, and all of our communities. We remain steadfast in our commitment to ensure that the Trump administration is accountable to the law and that immigrant youth remain safe and have the freedom to thrive here at home.”
The plaintiffs — Martín Batalla Vidal, Antonio Alarcón, Eliana Fernandez, Carolina Fung Feng, Carlos Vargas, Johana Larios, Ximena Zamora, Sonia Molina, M.B.F., and Make the Road New York — are represented by Make the Road New York, the National Immigration Law Center, and the Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic, a part of the Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization at Yale Law School.
The court’s memorandum and order is available at www.nilc.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Batalla-order-class-cert-Wolf-memo-2020-11-14.pdf.