Tuesday, July 21, 2020

WIRAC Continues Fight for DACA Recipients

Plaintiffs in the Batalla Vidal case outside court during a press conference in 2017.

Following a monumental Supreme Court win in June, immigrant youth with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Make the Road New York returned to federal court on July 21, 2020 to hold the Trump Administration to its obligation to fully restore DACA, as required by the Supreme Court’s decision.

A letter filed by plaintiffs in Batalla Vidal v. Wolf highlights the Trump Administration’s continued refusal to abide by the Supreme Court’s decision holding that the termination of DACA was unlawful. Despite that decision, and a related federal court order issued earlier in July, the government has not publicized any plans to begin accepting first-time requests for DACA and requests for advance parole. The letter asks the court to hold a status conference to determine next steps in the litigation, including when and how the government intends to comply with the Supreme Court’s decision.

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

Eliana Fernandez, lead organizer at Make the Road New York and one of the plaintiffs in the Batalla Vidal case, said, “It’s utterly outrageous that the Trump Administration has still refused to comply with the Supreme Court’s decision. We demand Trump heed the rule of law and immediately reopen the program for new applicants, and allow current beneficiaries like me to apply for advance parole to visit our loved ones, as we did before Trump tried unlawfully to end the program.”

“The clock has run out on the Trump administration,” said Trudy S. Rebert, attorney at the National Immigration Law Center. “It has had plenty of time to comply with the Supreme Court’s ruling. Instead, the Trump administration is creating confusion and anxiety through the President’s nonsensical comments and trying to distract from the fact that the decision even happened.”

Over the past eight years, more than 700,000 immigrant youth have been able to work, attend school, support their families, and contribute to their communities because of the protections granted by DACA, according to the plaintiffs. With the Supreme Court’s decision, an estimated 300,000 more are now eligible for the program.

“The Trump Administration side-stepped their legal obligations when they rescinded DACA three years ago, and now they’re ignoring those obligations outright,” said Ramis Wadood ’21, a law student working with WIRAC. “Hundreds of thousands of people have been illegally kept out of the DACA program since 2017 — they must be allowed to apply immediately.”

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.