Today, June 18, 2020, in a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court of the United States blocked the Trump administration from ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, thus preserving protections for hundreds of thousands of DACA beneficiaries in the United States today.
The Supreme Court held that it has the jurisdiction to review the DACA program, which was first announced under President Barack Obama in 2012. The Supreme Court also held that the Trump administration’s decision to terminate the DACA program in 2017 was “arbitrary and capricious,” or illegal, under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) because the government failed to consider all required aspects of the DACA program before ending it. Specifically, the Supreme Court determined that the Trump administration failed to reasonably explain its reasons for determining that the DACA program is illegal and also failed to adequately consider DACA recipients’ reliance on the DACA program.
As a result, the Supreme Court remanded the case (sent the case back) to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to consider the DACA program.
For now, the Supreme Court’s decision is a welcome relief for the approximately 700,000 DACA recipients in the United States who have been able to receive work authorization and protection from deportation under the DACA program. Because DACA remains intact, individuals who currently have DACA protection will continue to have this protection until further notice from or action by the government. We strongly encourage all individuals whose DACA benefits will soon expire or has already expired, to renew their DACA benefits as soon as possible.
However, it is important to remember that the Supreme Court’s decision is limited to concluding that the Trump administration’s decision to end the DACA program in 2017 was illegal. The Supreme Court made clear in its decision that it was not addressing whether or not the DACA program itself is legal.
Because the Supreme Court’s decision sends to question about the DACA program back to DHS, we will now need to see how DHS interprets and reacts to the decision. Several key questions include:
- Will the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) now accept new DACA applications from individuals who have never held DACA before? USCIS stopped accepting first-time DACA applications in October 2017.
- Will USCIS begin accepting applications for DACA advance parole? USCIS stopped accepting applications for advance parole recipients in 2017. A grant of advance parole would allow DACA recipients to travel outside the United States for business or humanitarian reasons without losing their DACA benefits.
Please check back for timely updates on the DACA program following this major decision by the Supreme Court of the United States, and please contact Margaret W. Wong & Associates LLC if you have questions about the DACA program.
Joseph C. Fungsang is an immigration attorney and partner in the New York City Immigration Law office of Margaret W. Wong & Associates LLC.