Judge: Government not required to accept new DACA applications pending appeal

24 Aug 18

UNITED STATES

U.S. District Judge John D. Bates has ruled that the Trump administration is not required to begin accepting new applications under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program while the administration appeals his ruling that ending DACA was unlawful. However, he ruled, the Department of Homeland Security must still continue to accept renewal applications.

Key Points:

  • The administration will not be required to start accepting new applications under DACA while it is in the process of appealing Bates’ April ruling. That ruling held that DACA should be “restored in full” unless the government can provide a fuller explanation of its legal reasoning for ending the program.
  • The government will still be required to continue accepting applications to renew DACA grants from those who had been granted relief under DACA at the time the government moved to end the program on Sept. 5, 2017.

Background: The Trump administration rescinded the Obama-era DACA program on Sept. 5, 2017, with a delayed effective date of March 5, 2018. On April 24, Judge Bates ruled in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia that the rescission violated the Administrative Procedure Act. He gave the government three months to either issue a new rescission order or provide adequate legal justification for its decision. Earlier this month, the judge declined to revise his April order, ruling again that the government was required to restart the DACA program.

Two other federal courts, in California and New York, have also ordered the administration to continue accepting DACA applications, but those decisions applied to DACA renewal applications only. A court in Texas, meanwhile, heard arguments this month in a separate lawsuit filed by Texas and several other states, seeking to force the administration to end the DACA program. If the Texas court sides with the states, the administration will likely seek Supreme Court review.

In granting the government a partial stay of his original order, Judge Bates referred to the confusion the litigation has caused. “The Court is mindful that continuing the stay in this case will temporarily deprive certain DACA-eligible individuals, and plaintiffs in these cases, of relief to which the Court has concluded they are legally entitled,” Bates wrote. “But the Court is also aware of the significant confusion and uncertainty that currently surrounds the status of the DACA program, which is now the subject of litigation in multiple federal district courts and courts of appeals.” For this reason, he wrote, he granted the partial stay in order to preserve the current status quo for the time being.

BAL Analysis: The ruling does not have any immediate practical effect because the government had not yet begun accepting new DACA applications under Judge Bates’ earlier rulings. For now, DHS will continue accepting renewal applications, but not new applications. BAL will continue to provide updates as the DACA litigation continues.

This alert has been provided by the BAL U.S. Practice group. For additional information, please contact berryapplemanleiden@balglobal.com.

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