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Sunday, November 15, 2020
Federal Court Sides with WIRAC and Partners in Latest DACA Case
On November 14, 2020, a federal court rejected the Trump administration’s latest attack on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in the Batalla Vidal v. Wolf lawsuit. The court found that the July memo issued by Chad Wolf, who claimed to be the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, was invalid because he was unlawfully appointed. As a result of the decision, lawyers working on the case said the Department of Homeland Security should return the DACA program to its initial form — re-opening DACA to first-time applicants, restoring work authorization and renewals to two years and making travel on advance parole available to DACA recipients without restrictions. The court also granted plaintiffs’ request to be certified as the representatives of a nationwide class of approximately one million DACA-eligible individuals across the country. The court directed the parties to contact the court “immediately” to schedule a conference regarding next steps and any relief stemming from the legal opinion.
The plaintiffs in the case are represented by the Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic, a part of the Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization, at Yale Law School, Make the Road New York, and the National Immigration Law Center.
“The Batalla-Vidal plaintiffs are fighting for all Dreamers, their families, and their communities. The Court's decision today reflects the tenacity, strength, and determination of the DACA movement in ensuring that the government respects the law.” — Medha Swaminathan ’22
WIRAC and its partners secured a monumental victory in June when the Supreme Court ruled that the termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in 2017 violated federal law. WIRAC and several other legal organizations were the first in the nation to file a legal challenge on the DACA rescission. The groups continued fighting for Dreamers throughout 2020, filing the Batalla Vidal v. Wolf lawsuit in August, resulting in this recent victory.
The August lawsuit was filed by DACA-eligible youth, first-time applicants, and DACA recipients challenging the Wolf memo. The lawsuit argues that the memo unlawfully and drastically diminished the program, and that it was issued without legal authority. Following the Supreme Court’s decision in June striking down the Trump Administration’s attempt to terminate DACA, the government should have restored DACA to its original terms, the lawsuit argues. Instead, it issued the Wolf Memo, which prohibited first-time DACA applications, cut renewals from two years to one, and drastically curtailed the ability of DACA recipients to travel abroad on advance parole. The plaintiffs asked the court to invalidate this latest attack on DACA so that the government would be required to process first-time DACA applications, two-year renewals, and advance parole requests. The court’s ruling now makes that relief likely, according to those working on the case.
“This is an incredible victory for DACA recipients and first-time applicants like me,” said Johana Larios, plaintiff in Batalla Vidal v. Wolf and member of Make the Road New York. “DACA has opened so many opportunities for hundreds of thousands of youth and now I hope to be able to go through with my application. With DACA I hope to be able to return to school, and feel safe from being separated from my young children.”
Javier. H. Valdés, Co-Executive Director of Make the Road New York, organizational plaintiff in the case, said: “As we look forward to a Biden administration, we know this victory is just the beginning. Not only must the new administration immediately protect DACA and TPS holders and reverse all of Trump’s nativist polices, but it also must provide swift relief and a path to citizenship for the millions of undocumented families across this country.”
“The Court's ruling is a victory for the individual plaintiffs in this case and for Make the Road New York as well as for over one million DACA recipients and applicants," said Medha Swaminathan '22, a Law Student Intern with the Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization at Yale Law School. "The Batalla-Vidal plaintiffs are fighting for all Dreamers, their families, and their communities. The Court's decision today reflects the tenacity, strength, and determination of the DACA movement in ensuring that the government respects the law.”
“The court has reaffirmed what we always knew: Chad Wolf was not authorized to perform the functions of an acting secretary when he issued the July 28 DACA Memo,” said Trudy S. Rebert, staff attorney at the National Immigration Law Center. “This is a victory for our courageous plaintiffs, DACA-eligible youth across the country, and all of our communities. We remain steadfast in our commitment to ensure that the Trump administration is accountable to the law and immigrant youth remain safe and have the freedom to thrive here at home.”
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.