Skip to Content

Supreme Court Rules DACA to Continue—For Now

Higher Education Labor & Employment

On June 18, 2020, The United States Supreme Court ruled, 5 to 4, that the Trump Administration could not immediately shut down DACA, a program protecting nearly 700,000 young immigrants, many children, from Deportation. In Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of the University of California, the Court determined the Department of Homeland Security’s (‘DHS’) process for rescinding DACA violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) and that the Agency’s rescission of the program could not stand because the decision was “arbitrary and capricious.”

DACA or the Deferred Action of Childhood Arrivals, was established under the Obama Administration in 2012 and allowed young people, often referred to as “Dreamers,” to apply for a temporary status that protected them from deportation and allowed them to work. In 2017 DHS issued a decision memorandum declaring the DACA program should be rescinded.

The Court did not address the underlying policy merits or legality of the DACA program itself, and the ruling was limited to a review of the procedural steps taken by the Trump administration to rescind the program. The Court found the steps taken to rescind DACA violated the APA, which sets forth the procedures federal agencies must follow in taking regulatory actions. The Trump Administration argued DACA is an enforcement policy and thereby the rescission of DACA was not subject to review under the APA. The Court disagreed stating DACA was more than a nonenforcement policy because it created a program for affirmative immigration relief (i.e. access to benefits). The Court noted that access to such relief is an interest “courts are often called to protect.” Accordingly, the Court determined the rescission of DACA is subject to review under the APA.

The Court further found DHS’s decision to rescind DACA to be ‘arbitrary and capricious.’ The decision memorandum stated DACA was unlawful yet provided no policy reasons for the decision. The Court determined the Agency failed to make important considerations or provide a reasoned explanation for its decision. The Court has left the door open for future attempts by the Trump administration to rescind the program in a manner that complies with the APA.

What does this Mean for Employers and Educators of DACA Recipients?

  • Current DACA recipients can continue to receive protections from deportation offered under DACA.
  • Current DACA recipients can continue to receive eligible benefits under DACA like work authorization.
  • Eligible DACA recipients can continue to apply for renewal of their DACA.

Employers and educators of DACA recipients should be aware of the Court’s Ruling and its implications.  Contact your Franczek attorney for questions or explanations of these implications.  We will continue to monitor develops with the DACA program and provide updates on any new developments.