Litigation Related to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

For information about U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ Jan. 13, 2018, announcement that it is accepting DACA renewal applications, see our FAQ: USCIS Is Accepting DACA Renewal Applications, first posted Jan. 14, 2018.

Litigation Related to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

Last updated JUNE 24, 2020*

On Sep. 5, 2017, the Trump administration announced that it was terminating Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which was created during President Obama’s administration. Under the terms of the DACA termination, everyone who had filed a first-time or a renewal application for DACA as of Sep. 5, 2017, would continue to have their applications processed. And anyone with a grant of DACA expiring between Sep. 5, 2017, and Mar. 5, 2018, could apply for a two-year renewal of their DACA. Originally, the deadline to submit renewal applications to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) was October 5, 2017. No other DACA applications were to be accepted.

More than ten cases were filed challenging the Trump administration’s termination of DACA. Between Jan. 2018 and June 2020, orders from three federal district courts — first in Regents of the University of California, et al. v. Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS), and later in Batalla Vidal v. Nielsen and NAACP v. Trump — kept DACA partially in place by requiring USCIS to continue accepting DACA applications from previous DACA recipients. The lower courts’ rulings were challenged all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court, which consolidated the cases and heard oral argument on Nov. 12, 2019.

On June 18, 2020, the Supreme Court issued its opinion. The Court, in a 5-4 opinion written by Chief Justice Roberts, held that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had improperly terminated DACA, and it remanded the action to the agency. The Court reasoned that the agency’s termination of DACA violated the Administrative Procedure Act because (1) DHS failed to consider alternatives to termination, such as retaining the protections from deportation without the benefits associated with DACA (such as work authorization) and (2) DHS failed to assess whether there were reliance interests at stake and to weigh those against competing policy concerns. The Court affirmed the judgment in NAACP, which had remanded DHS’s termination of DACA to the agency, leaving in place the 2012 DHS policy memo that made DACA available. For information on the opinion, see NILC’s Alert: Supreme Court Overturns Trump Administration’s Termination of DACA, and for guidance on applying for DACA, see the Home Is Here coalition’s Post–Supreme Court Decision DACA Guidance.

The two tables in this publication provide information only about the cases appealed to the Supreme Court and about the only lawsuit challenging DACA that has any traction as of June 24, 2020. The tables were created for easy reference and are not intended to be comprehensive.

Table 1 includes cases challenging the termination of DACA on Sep. 5, 2017. The plaintiffs in these cases brought claims primarily under the Administrative Procedure Act and the U.S. Constitution’s Due Process and Equal Protection clauses; some brought claims of estoppel. NILC is counsel only in the Batalla Vidal v. Wolf case. For further information about the other cases described in Table 1, you may want to contact the entities involved in them (listed in the table) or read the complaints to which the table hyperlinks.

Table 2 includes the single case challenging the legality of DACA itself, which Texas and six other states filed on May 1, 2018.

To download the tables, click on the PDF icon, above.

* Table 1 was previously published separately under the title “Cases Challenging the Termination of the DACA Program.” When Table 2 was added, the title was changed to “Litigation Related to the DACA Program.” As of the July 3, 2019, edition, this publication’s title is “Litigation Related to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).”