Virginia, US

Aug 06 2018

Federal Court Reaffirms Order for Full Reinstatement of DACA, Stays Ruling 20 Days

United States

At a glance

  • A federal district court has ordered the Department of Homeland Security to fully reinstate the DACA program, but has stayed its order for 20 days to allow DHS an opportunity to appeal.
  • The order does not have an immediate impact on current or potential DACA beneficiaries, but unless it is stayed further, it would require DHS to accept new DACA applications in addition to renewals.

The situation

Judge John D. Bates of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia has ordered the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to fully reinstate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, reaffirming his April 24 decision that the Trump Administration’s rescission of the program was unlawful.  Judge Bates has stayed his order for 20 days to allow DHS an opportunity to appeal the ruling and seek a stay pending appeal.  The cases are NAACP v. Trump and Trustees of Princeton University v. United States.

In April, Judge Bates found that DHS had not followed proper procedure when it terminated the DACA program.  The court ordered DHS to reinstate DACA but stayed its order for 90 days to give DHS time to provide a legal justification for its decision to rescind the program. In his August 3 ruling, the judge determined that the Administration’s rationale for the rescission was insufficient.

Judge Bates’ order would require DHS to consider new applications from those who had never obtained DACA benefits, in addition to the DACA renewals the agency currently accepts.  It would also require the agency to consider applications for advance parole from qualifying DACA beneficiaries who wish to travel abroad and return to the United States.

DHS currently accepts DACA renewal applications pursuant to orders from federal courts in California and New York issued earlier this year.  In February, the Supreme Court declined to grant fast-track review of those orders.

What the ruling means for employers and foreign nationals

The court order does not have an immediate impact on current or potential DACA beneficiaries, but if DHS does not appeal the ruling or receive a further stay of the August 3 court order, it would be required to accept new DACA applications in the future.  In a statement made today, however, Attorney General Jeff Sessions signaled that the Administration will appeal the ruling. 

In a separate case, Texas and several other U.S. states have brought suit to challenge the legality of the DACA program.  The case, Texas v. Nielsen, is pending in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas before Judge Andrew S. Hanen, who ruled against the Obama Administration’s planned expansion of DACA in 2015.  The states are requesting a nationwide preliminary injunction to prohibit the Trump Administration from granting or renewing DACA benefits, which could set up a conflict among the federal courts hearing DACA-related lawsuits.

Fragomen is closely following DACA-related litigation and will provide further updates as developments occur.

This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen.