Batalla Vidal v. Nielsen

On August 25, 2016, Martín Batalla Vidal, a recipient of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), filed a federal lawsuit in the Eastern District of New York challenging the reach of the preliminary injunction issued by a federal court in Texas in United States v. Texas.  The Texas case sought to block the implementation of the Obama Administration’s 2014 immigration-relief initiatives, Deferred Action for Parents of Americans Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and an expansion of DACA. One month later, Make the Road New York (MRNY), some of whose members, clients, and employees are DACA recipients, joined the lawsuit.

On September 5, 2017, after Attorney General Sessions announced the administration was terminating the DACA program, Mr. Batalla Vidal and MRNY requested leave to amend their complaint in order to challenge the decision to rescind DACA as unlawful under the Administrative Procedure Act and the Fifth Amendment

Five more plaintiffs joined the lawsuit in September 2017: Antonio Alarcon, Eliana Fernandez, Carlos Vargas, Mariano Mondragon, and Carolina Fung Feng. These individuals are all young DACA recipients for whom New York is the only home they have ever known. They have all relied on DACA to attend school, get jobs, and provide for their families. However, with the Trump Administration’s termination of the DACA program, these individuals and hundreds of thousands of other young people who have resided in the United States for their entire lives were at risk of losing protection from deportation and their ability to work and live in the United States.

On February 13, 2018, Judge Garaufis in the Eastern District of New York ordered a nationwide preliminary injunction halting the DACA Termination, ruling that the government’s decision to end DACA was arbitrary and capricious. The next month, Judge Garaufis also denied motions to dismiss filed by the defendants. The government appealed to the Second Circuit, which held oral argument in January 2019. Hannah Schoen ’19 argued on behalf of the Batalla Vidal plaintiffs. Before the Second Circuit issued its judgment, the Government filed for certiorari, seeking consolidated review of the preliminary injunctions in the D.C., Second and Ninth Circuits. The Supreme Court granted the government’s cert petition and consolidated Batalla-Vidal with eight other cases. The Court held oral argument in November 2019. To the surprise of many, in June 2020 the Supreme Court agreed that the Trump Administration’s termination of DACA had been done in an unlawful manner. Dept. of Homeland Security, et al., v. Regents of the University of California, et al., 591 U.S. ---, 140 S.Ct. 1891 (2020). 

In summer 2020, the Trump Administration renewed its effort to suspend DACA. Plaintiffs in Batalla Vidal challenged this latest effort and renewed their prior motion for class certification. In November 2020, the district court agreed that DHS did not follow the proper order of succession, and thus actions by purported Acting Secretaries to reimpose DACA restrictions were done without legal authority. The Court also certified a nation-wide class and appointed the clinic and its co-counsel as class counsel. Current information for class members is available on the class website.

The effect of this ruling was to reopen DACA to new applicants for the first time in years. Batalla Vidal v. Wolf, 501 F.Supp.3d 117 (E.D.N.Y. 2020). The effect of this order was constrained in summer 2021, however, when the federal court in Texas held the DACA program unlawful and ordered that the government may accept, but may not process, new DACA applications. The Batalla Vidal plaintiffs requested that Judge Garaufis clarify and modify the relief in light of the Texas ruling, but he declined. Batalla Vidal v. Mayorkas, 618 F.Supp. 3d 119 (E.D.N.Y. 2022).


A group of people standing on courthouse steps; a man in front holds a microphone and speaks to a camera
Edgar Melgar ’20 speaks at a press conference outside the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on January 25, 2019.

WIRAC represents six individual plaintiffs and MRNY along with co-counsel MRNY and the National Immigration Law Center.

Letter to Judge Garaufis (July 21, 2020)

Letter to Supreme Court Regarding Impact of COVID-19

Brief before the Supreme Court on by individual DACA recipient respondent and others (filed September 27, 2019).

Brief in Opposition for Respondents Martín Jonathan Batalla Vidal, et al. on Petition for a Writ of Certiorari before judgment by the Second Circuit (filed December 17, 2018).

Order Denying Motion to Dismiss in Part (ordered March 29, 2018)

Order for a Nationwide Preliminary Injunction (granted February 13, 2018)

“Yale Law School Clinics Secure Third Nationwide Injunction” (posted February 14, 2018)

Second Circuit Decision Denying Government Mandamus (ordered December 27, 2017)

Third Amended Complaint (filed December 11, 2017)

Order Denying Motion to Dismiss on Jurisdiction and Justiciability (ordered November 9, 2017)

Op-Ed by Mr. Batalla Vidal (posted September 6, 2017)

Brooklyn Lawsuit Could Affect the Fate of Millions of Immigrants Nationwide” (posted October 9, 2016)