Following WIRAC Win, Government Publishes Notice of DACA Restoration
Following a December 4, 2020 federal court decision in the Batalla Vidal v. Wolf lawsuit, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has updated its website with a notice confirming that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program has been restored in full to its pre-2017 form. Now, for the first time since the Trump Administration tried to end the program in 2017, USCIS is again accepting applications from first-time applicants, and applications for advance parole (permission to leave the country and reenter) for humanitarian, educational, and employment purposes. As a result of the Dec. 4 decision, work authorization will again be issued in two-year intervals.
The plaintiffs in this national class-action case are represented by the Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic, 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 update to the online guidance follows the court’s finding that Chad Wolf, who claimed to be the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, did not have the legal authority to issue the July 2020 memorandum dismantling DACA, because he was unlawfully appointed.
After the Supreme Court struck down the Trump administration’s unlawful attempt to terminate DACA last June, Wolf issued a memorandum blocking first-time DACA applications, cutting renewals from two years to one, and drastically reducing the ability of DACA recipients to travel abroad on advance parole. In August, DACA-eligible youth, first-time applicants, and DACA recipients filed a legal challenge against the memo, arguing that it unlawfully and drastically altered the program, and that it was issued without legal authority. On November 14, 2020 the court sided with the plaintiffs.
In addition, the court granted plaintiffs’ request to be certified as the representatives of a nationwide class of approximately one million DACA-eligible individuals across the country. Class members can sign up to receive informative updates at dacaclassaction.com.
“Today, after waiting nearly three years, I will finally be able to apply for DACA,” said Ximena Zamora, member of Make the Road New York and plaintiff in Batalla Vidal v. Wolf lawsuit. “In 2017, I was robbed of the opportunity to be able to apply because DACA was wrongly terminated, and then again in July when the Trump administration issued a memo blocking first time applicants like me. As a recent high school graduate, I want to be able to continue my studies, work to help support my family, and live without fear of being separated from my loved ones. I am excited to submit my DACA application as soon as possible.”
“The Trump administration’s onslaught on immigrants and immigrant youth has put us at risk. Since their first attempt to end DACA, we have fought in the streets and in the courts, and we have proven once again that DACA should continue as it was before Trump tried to terminate it,” said Sonia Molina, member of Make the Road New York and plaintiff in Batalla Vidal v. Wolf lawsuit whose DACA renewal application is pending. “As I now wait for my two-year DACA renewal, I know our fight is not over. We must continue to fight and organize to ensure permanent protections for all DACA recipients, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, and all undocumented people across the country.”
“For the first time in over three years, the government has finally confirmed what the law has always required: that it will accept first-time applications for DACA” said Ramis Wadood ’21, a law student intern with WIRAC. “Our plaintiffs have fought to keep DACA open since the beginning of the Trump presidency, and they will continue fighting for their community to be safe from deportation.”
“Our victories against the Trump administration are a testament to the courage, resilience and power of immigration communities and the movement for immigrant justice — especially our brave and indefatigable plaintiffs who have remained steadfast in securing justice for themselves and others. Their home is here,” said Araceli Martínez-Olguín, Supervising Attorney at the National Immigration Law Center.
While the government may appeal the decision and another federal judge in Texas may rule in a separate DACA case in the coming months, all eligible individuals are encouraged to consult with an immigration attorney about applying. For further information on the case and for forthcoming resources for class members, visit: dacaclassaction.org.
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. WIRAC and partner organizations were the first in the nation to file a legal challenge to the DACA rescission in 2017.