Friday, August 14, 2020


Federal Court Greenlights New DACA Challenge

WIRAC students holding a press conference outside federal court in 2017 in the original case that challenged the rescission of DACA. The clinic is now pursuing a separate lawsuit over the Trump administration's newest attempt to dismantle the program.

On August 14, 2020, a federal court in Brooklyn approved a request from immigrant youth with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status and the organization Make the Road New York to sue the Trump Administration over its newest attempt to dismantle the DACA program. The plaintiffs are being represented by lawyers from Make the Road New York, the National Immigration Law Center, and the Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic (WIRAC) at Yale Law School.

At the court hearing, plaintiffs in Batalla Vidal v. Wolf explained that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) July 28 memo, which drastically altered DACA, suffers from several legal and constitutional defects. Not only did the Trump administration once again side-step the procedures required to take such an action, but it also stripped DACA applicants of their due process rights, they argued. Moreover, plaintiffs questioned the authority of Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf to alter the DACA program in the first place, since he is not serving lawfully in his position.

The court granted plaintiffs’ request to file an amended complaint challenging the new DACA memo in the coming weeks. The court also indicated that the parties should quickly move forward with additional briefing and ordered the parties to come back to the court by next week with a proposed schedule. The court granted a similar request from 16 states and the District of Columbia.

Batalla Vidal v. Wolf was the first legal challenge to President Trump’s 2017 termination of DACA. That case — in which the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), Make the Road New York (MRNY), and WIRAC represented six DACA recipients and MRNY — culminated in a monumental victory at the U.S. Supreme Court in June, in which the Supreme Court held that the Trump Administration violated federal law by improperly terminating DACA in 2017.

“We applaud the judge’s decision to allow our amended complaint to challenge Trump's latest reckless effort to end DACA,” said Javier H. Valdés, Co-Executive Director of Make the Road New York. “The Trump administration’s refusal to comply with the Supreme Court decision and to fully restore DACA — places hundreds of thousands of immigrant youth at risk of deportation and denies new applicants an opportunity for temporary but life-altering relief. For the last three years, we have fought against Trump’s cruel attacks on undocumented youth, and we are ready to continue to fight tooth and nail to defend and protect immigrant youth and all immigrants.”

“The Trump Administration’s newest attack on DACA is as unlawful as its first,” added Armando Ghinaglia ’21, law student intern in the WIRAC, who argued for the plaintiffs in court and who himself has been a DACA recipient. “By issuing this memo so haphazardly, the Trump Administration side-stepped its legal and constitutional obligations. Our plaintiffs won’t let that stand.”

Under the July 28 DHS memo, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will reject all first-time DACA applications. While USCIS will continue to process DACA renewals, renewals and work authorization will be granted only for one year at a time, instead of two years. And although the per-application fee remains the same, the change effectively doubles the fee for DACA renewals.

“We’ve been fighting Trump’s unlawful attempts to dismantle DACA from the beginning, and our fight continues,” said Araceli Martínez-Olguín, supervising attorney at the National Immigration Law Center. “As Trump doubles down on his efforts to harm immigrant youth and immigrant communities, even in the midst of a public health and economic crisis, we remain steadfast to ensure that immigrant youth are secure here, at home. We’ll keep fighting alongside our plaintiffs and communities to stop Trump’s harmful, divisive and hateful actions.”

Over the past eight years, more than 700,000 immigrant youth who have been able to use DACA to work, attend school, better support their families, and make even greater contributions to their communities. As a result of the Trump administration’s unlawful attacks on the program, an estimated 300,000 eligible immigrant youth have been denied the opportunity to apply for DACA.

The Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic, a part of the Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization at Yale School, represents immigrants, low-wage workers, and their organizations in labor, immigration, civil rights, and other matters.