Federal Court Orders DACA Program Restored

December 4, 2020

Victoria Ballesteros, [email protected]
Medha Swaminathan, [email protected]
Yatziri Tovar, [email protected]
Daniel Altschuler, [email protected]

Federal Court Orders DACA Program Restored

Immigrant youth in class-action lawsuit celebrate victory

NEW YORK — Today, in the Batalla Vidal v. Wolf lawsuit, a federal court ordered the Trump administration to restore Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) to its 2012 original form — reopening DACA to first-time applicants, restoring work authorization and renewals to two years, and making travel on advance parole more widely available to DACA recipients.

This decision follows the court’s finding that the July memo issued by Chad Wolf, who claimed to be the acting secretary of Homeland Security, was issued without legal authority because he was unlawfully appointed. In addition, the court had 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.

“Immigrant youth have resisted this cruel administration’s continuous attacks, and once more we have won,” said Johana Larios, plaintiff in Batalla Vidal v. Wolf and member of Make the Road New York. “Now, first-time applicants like me will be able to have access to the DACA program, and current recipients will be able to breathe a little easier as DACA is restored to its original form. I am now able to look forward to returning to school and feel safe that I won’t be separated from my community.”

“Today’s ruling culminates years of organizing by immigrant youth and marks an enormous victory in the battle to protect DACA,” said Armando Ghinaglia, a law student intern with the Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization at Yale Law School. “For the first time since the Trump administration’s attempts to end DACA in 2017, the government must accept new first-time applications for DACA.”

Kamal Essaheb, deputy director of the National Immigration Law Center and former DACA recipient, stated: “More than a million DACA-eligible youth have just been granted the opportunity and freedom to thrive in this country that is their home. We celebrate this latest victory with our courageous plaintiffs, and look ahead to a new pro-immigrant administration under President-elect Biden and a permanent fix for DACA youth on day one of his administration.”

Javier. H. Valdés, co-executive director of Make the Road New York, organizational plaintiff in the case, said: “The court’s decision marks another victory for undocumented youth. Since its inception, the Trump administration has tried to terminate DACA and has left hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients and DACA-eligible youth in limbo. We have now defeated them again. As we celebrate this victory, we look forward to ensuring that the incoming Biden administration provides not only permanent protection for DACA recipients, but an overhaul of out-of-control enforcement and a path to citizenship for the millions of undocumented people in this country.”

After the U.S. Supreme Court in June struck down the Trump administration’s unlawful attempt to terminate DACA, another federal court in Maryland ordered the government to restore DACA to its original terms. Instead, Chad Wolf, purportedly serving as the acting secretary of Homeland Security, issued a memorandum in July prohibiting first-time DACA applications, cutting renewals from two years to one, and drastically curtailing the ability of DACA recipients to travel abroad on advance parole.

In August, DACA-eligible youth, first-time applicants, and DACA recipients filed a legal challenge against the July 2020 memo, arguing that it unlawfully and drastically altered the program and that it was issued without legal authority. Following today’s decision, all eligible individuals are encouraged to consult with an immigration attorney to apply or renew their DACA immediately.

The named plaintiffs are Martín Batalla Vidal, Antonio Alarcón, Eliana Fernandez, Carolina Fung Feng, Carlos Vargas, Johana Larios, M.B.F., Ximena Zamora, Sonia Molina, and Make the Road New York. The class is represented by Make the Road New York, the National Immigration Law Center, and the Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization at Yale Law School. For further information on the case and for forthcoming resources for class members, visit dacaclassaction.org.

Today’s order is available at www.nilc.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/Batalla-Order-re-MSJ-2020-12-04.pdf.

# # #