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DACA Ruling Deals Another Blow to the Administration

Late last night, a federal judge in the Northern District of dealt yet another loss to the Administration. This time it was Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Several entities, led by the University of California, sued the Administration over its decision to nullify the Obama Administration’s 2012 order establishing the program. I will discuss the judge’s DACA ruling in detail in this post.

Who Are the Plaintiffs in this Case?

The case was filed shortly after the Administration’s recession decision was announced in September. They were led by Janet Napolitano, the President of the University of California, and the former head of the Department of Homeland Security. There were several lawsuits, which were consolidated. They were filed by individuals, entities, and States, which had standing to sue over the decision.

What Issues Did the Suit Involve?

The Plaintiffs argued that the recession decision violated the Administrative Procedures Act (APA), in that it did not abide by the rulemaking rules. The Plaintiffs also argued that the decision violated the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment. Lastly, they argued that the decision violated the Equal Protection Clause and equitable estoppel. The order was entered regarding motions by the parties. The Government moved to dismiss the case and the Plaintiffs moved for preliminary injunctions. I urge everyone to read Judge Alsup’s decision for a great review of the history of deferred action.

What Did the Judge Rule?

The decision was a smackdown of the Administration’s decision. It was clear that the judge was incensed by the Administration’s moves in the case. For example, the judge highlighted the fact that the Government did not file the Administrative Record and took an interlocutory appeal to stop such production. The judge commented that he would have issued the same decision and would have waited until the instant decision was entered before the production.

Was the Decision to Rescind DACA Discretionary?

The judge ruled that the decision to rescind was not committed to Agency discretion, barring federal review. He reasoned that in the Recession memorandum, the Acting Secretary commented that the decision dealt with the interpretation of the Immigration & Naturalization Act, and thus was not a discretionary decision. He further reasoned that the fact that the Government asked DACA recipients to apply, and encouraged them, took it out of the discretionary arena, and made it a reviewable question of law.

Did the INA Allow Review?

The judge ruled that the INA did allow review since the decision did not involve immigrant who is in removal proceedings. The Act bars judicial review of such decisions, which the judge ruled is not involved in this case.

Did the Plaintiff Have Standing?

Judge Alsup ruled that most of the Plaintiffs had standing to sue on the issues.

Why Did Judge Alsup Grant the Injunction?

Judge Alsup granted the injunction for several reasons. First, the judge ruled that the decision to rescind was based on flawed legal reasoning. The judge said that the main reason behind the recession was the fact that it was allegedly illegal. The Court ruled that the Service’s own determinations, like the one in 2014, clearly ruled that DACA was a legal program.

Second, the judge ruled that the agency should instruct its adjudicators to give a full review for DACA applications. This reasoning came from the Service’s argument that DACA applications were not given an adequate adjudicatory review.

Third, the judge rejected the Administration’s argument that the program was illegal. The judge highlighted the fact that the Attorney General, in rescinding DACA, mentioned the Fifth Circuit’s DAPA decision to say that DACA was illegal. The judge distinguished the two programs because DAPA and held that the Service’s 2014 decision as to legality clearly shows that the program was legal.

Lastly, the judge rejected the Service’s argument that the decision was related to litigation management was arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion. The main reasoning was the fact that the Acting Secretary did not conduct any analysis regarding DACA’s legality and ended the program one day after the Attorney General’s decision. So since the recession decision was sudden and without any legal basis, it was arbitrary.

What Does the DACA Ruling Mean?

The order enjoins the Service and orders it to continue the program beyond the March 8, 2018, deadline because the Plaintiffs showed that they will suffer irreparable harm. The judge’s ruling applies nationwide. This means that absent an appeal, the Government must continue accepting DACA renewal applications. The Administration said that it will appeal the decision.

I Have DACA, What Should I Do?

If you are a current DACA recipient or applicant, you must consult with an immigration attorney ASAP. You should also check out this past post regarding DACA alternatives. Call us at (888) 991-3336 to discuss your options.

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