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District Court Invalidates DHS Memo Limiting DACA Program

This weekend, Judge Nicholas Garaufis of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York invalidated the July 28, 2020 DHS memorandum that rolled back the DACA program by prohibiting new initial Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) applications, limiting renewals to one year, and prohibiting the grant of advance parole travel documents to DACA beneficiaries. The court ruling restores the DACA program, at least temporarily, to its original form as created in 2012. The cases are Batalla Vidal v. Wolf and State of New York v. Trump.

Judge Garaufis held that Chad Wolf was not lawfully appointed Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and thus did not have the legal authority to issue the July 28 agency memo. Judge Garaufis also certified a nationwide class, meaning that the court order will apply to all individuals who are or will be eligible for DACA based on the terms of the program that existed in 2012, except those who filed their own separate lawsuits challenging the Wolf memorandum.

The parties to the case are expected to confer with the court about next steps for affected foreign nationals, presumably including procedures for those seeking to apply for initial DACA benefits, those who received one-year extensions (as opposed to two-year extensions), or for advance parole. DHS is expected to appeal the district court decision to a higher court.

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