Judge rules DHS head was serving unlawfully when DACA memo was issued

16 Nov 20

UNITED STATES

A federal judge ruled Saturday that Chad Wolf, the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, was unlawfully serving in his position when he issued a memorandum in July limiting the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The parties to the litigation will discuss next steps at a conference this week.

Key Points:

  • Following a Supreme Court ruling invalidating the Trump administration’s first attempt to end DACA, Acting Secretary Wolf issued a memorandum that said that DHS would continue to accept DACA renewal applications, but not new enrollees, while it undertook a review of the program. Wolf’s memo also said DHS would limit renewal grants and work authorization to one-year periods, rather than the previous two years. USCIS issued guidance regarding its implementation of the memo in August.
  • U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis ruled Saturday that Wolf’s appointment as Acting DHS Secretary violated the federal government’s agency succession rules, and that he did not have legal authority to issue the memorandum limiting the DACA program. President Trump announced in August that he would formally nominate Wolf as Secretary of Homeland Security, but legal challenges called into question the validity of the July memorandum. Other lawsuits challenging Trump administration immigration policies have also raised the issue of Wolf’s appointment.
  • Judge Garaufis did not immediately invalidate the July memorandum in his ruling, but instead asked the two sides to schedule a conference to discuss next steps in the litigation.

BAL Analysis: The ruling does not immediately change the DACA program and, pending another ruling or additional guidance from DHS, the government will continue to accept DACA renewal applications, but not new enrollees. It will also limit renewal grants and work authorization to one-year periods. BAL continues to follow the litigation and will provide clients with important information as it becomes available.

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

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