Saturday, June 22, 2024

Appeals court rules that DHS had not followed the law when terminating DACA

Last Friday, a federal appeals court ruled that the Trump administration’s rescission of DACA, was unlawful, reversing a decision by a lower court.

In a 2-1 decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled that the Department of Homeland Security had not followed the law in terminating the program. The court found that the way in which the Trump administration ended the program in September 2017 was “arbitrary and capricious” and thus a violation of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).

This ruling does not have any immediate effect because rulings by other courts have required that DACA be kept in force. In November 2018, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a nationwide injunction that allowed DACA to remain in effect.

“Hundreds of thousands of people had structured their lives on the availability of deferred action during the five years between the implementation of DACA and the decision to rescind,” the Fourth Circuit judges wrote in the majority opinion. “Although the government insists that Acting Secretary Duke considered these interests in connection with her decision to rescind DACA, her Memo makes no mention of them.”

As a result, the judges in the majority decided to overturn the lower court’s ruling that the Department of Homeland Security had acted lawfully in its rescission of DACA. “We hold that the Department’s decision to rescind DACA was arbitrary and capricious and must be set aside,” the appeals court judges continued.

According to the judges, the Department of Homeland Security acted in a way that violated the Administrative Procedure Act because the Department ignored a legal memo dating back to the Obama administration supporting the legality of DACA. DACA proponents have argued that any changes to the program are subject to the requirements of the APA; Trump administration lawyers have argued the opposite.

Last Thursday, the Trump administration unveiled a proposal that would revamp the country’s immigration system, but the plan did not include any policy solution for DREAMers.