Summary of DACA Litigation and Policy Developments
Since the Obama administration announced Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, in June 2012, more than 700,000 individuals benefited from temporary protection from deportation and employment authorization. In September 2017, the Trump administration decided to rescind DACA and began taking steps to wind down the program. Several lawsuits challenging the rescission of DACA ensued. On June 18, 2020 the U.S. Supreme Court held that the DACA rescission decision violated the Administrative Procedures Act and must be vacated. It remanded the three consolidated lawsuits to the lower courts for further proceedings consistent with its opinion.
The digest below tracks DACA developments in reverse chronological order.
Dec. 4, 2020: The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York in Batalla Vidal, et al., v. Wolf, et al. vacated the July 28, 2020, Wolf memorandum suspending portions of DACA. The court ordered USCIS to resume accepting first-time DACA requests, renewal requests, and advance parole requests according to the terms of the DACA program before its termination in 2017. The court also ordered the agency to extend all one-year DACA grants and employment authorization documents to two years. USCIS updated its website on Dec. 7, 2020 to indicate compliance with the court’s order.
Nov. 14, 2020: The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York ruled in Batalla Vidal, that DHS Acting Secretary Wolf was not lawfully serving in that role when he issued his July 28, 2020, memorandum suspending portions of DACA. The court also granted the plaintiffs’ motion for nationwide class certification to include all individuals eligible for DACA under the terms of the original program as announced in 2012.
July 28, 2020: The Department of Homeland Security, or DHS, issued a memorandum making certain immediate changes to the DACA policy while the agency reconsiders the program in light of the Supreme Court’s decision. Effective immediately, DHS will reject all pending and future initial DACA requests; reject all pending and future applications for advance parole, absent exceptional circumstances; and grant DACA renewals and employment authorization in one-year increments, instead of two-year periods.
July 17, 2020: The U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland issued an order restoring DACA to its pre-rescission status and enjoining the Department of Homeland Security, or DHS, from implementing the rescission.
June 18, 2020: The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the decision to rescind DACA was arbitrary and capricious under the Administrative Procedures Act and remanded the three consolidated cases for further proceedings.
April 1, 2020: In response to COVID-19 public health concerns, the temporary closure of Application Support Centers and the suspension of all biometrics appointments, USCIS indicated it may reuse a DACA applicant’s previously submitted biometrics (photograph and fingerprints) for purposes of processing DACA renewal requests and related work authorization applications.
Nov. 12, 2019: The Supreme Court heard oral arguments about the legality of the DACA termination based on three consolidated cases — Regents of the University of California v. DHS, Batalla Vidal v. Nielsen, and NAACP v. Trump. A decision is expected at any time.
June 28, 2019: The Supreme Court agreed to review three legal challenges to the termination of DACA — Regents of the University of California v. DHS, Batalla Vidal v. Nielsen, and NAACP v. Trump.
May 17, 2019: In the CASA de Maryland, et al. v. Dept. of Homeland Security, et al. case, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals became the second court of appeals to find the decision to end DACA illegal.
Nov. 8, 2018: The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Northern District of California’s preliminary injunction in Regents of the University of California v. DHS.
May 1, 2018: Texas and nine other states filed a lawsuit, Texas, et al. v. Nielsen, et al., in the Southern District of Texas challenging the legality of the original 2012 DACA program.
April 24, 2018: The D.C. District Court for the District of Columbia in NAACP, et al. v. Trump vacated the Trump administration’s decision to rescind DACA. However, it then stayed the order pending the government’s appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. As long as the stay remains in place, USCIS is not required to re-open the DACA program to initial applicants or DACA recipients seeking advance parole.
Feb. 13, 2018: A nationwide preliminary injunction was issued by the Eastern District of New York in Batalla Vidal, et al. v. Nielsen, et al. This injunction mirrored the one issued in the Regents of the University of California case and ordered USCIS to accept DACA renewal applications from those who had previously been granted DACA.
Jan. 13, 2018: In response to the Regents of the University of California injunction, USCIS announced it had resumed accepting renewal applications from anyone who currently has or has previously held DACA. However, no initial DACA applications or advance parole applications can be filed.
Jan. 9, 2018: Judge Alsup of the Northern District of California issued a nationwide preliminary injunction in Regents of the University of California, et al. v. Department of Homeland Security requiring USCIS to resume accepting certain DACA applications.
Sept. 5, 2017: The Trump administration announced the termination of DACA and began phasing out the program.
June 15, 2012: The Department of Homeland Security announced that certain individuals who came to the United States as children and meet the eligibility requirements may request deferred action and work authorization for a period of two years, subject to renewal.