United States: Federal Court Orders DHS to Accept DACA Renewals While a Challenge to the Program's Termination Proceeds

• In a lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration's termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, a federal district judge has ordered the Department of Homeland Security to resume accepting renewal applications from DACA beneficiaries while the case goes forward. • It is not yet known when DHS will begin to accept renewal applications. The agency is expected to appeal the ruling and could seek a stay of the district court's order while an appeal proceeds.

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Jan 11, 2018
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The situation

On Tuesday, a federal district judge in California ordered DHS to resume accepting renewal applications from DACA beneficiaries while a lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s rescission of the program goes forward. The judge ruled that the plaintiffs were likely to succeeded on the merits of their claim that the rescission of DACA was arbitrary and violates federal administrative procedure laws. The case is Regents of the University of California v. DHS.

The order permits foreign nationals who have been granted DACA protections to renew their benefits, which would include those who did not seek a renewal during the last application period despite being eligible to file or who were ineligible to file because their benefits were set to expire after the Administration’s DACA termination date. The order does not compel the government to accept first-time DACA applications or to issue advance parole to DACA beneficiaries seeking to travel abroad.

Background

The court order came as President Trump met with congressional Democrats and Republicans to discuss DACA legislation. In that meeting, the President appeared to support a relief bill conditioned on the inclusion of border security measures and an end to “chain” migration and the Diversity Visa lottery.

The Trump Administration plans to terminate the DACA program on March 5, 2018. Between September 5 and October 5, 2017, it permitted foreign nationals whose DACA benefits were set to expire between September 5, 2017 and March 5, 2018 to file renewal applications. Those with DACA benefits expiring after March 5, 2018 were not permitted to renew, and no new DACA applications were accepted after September 5, 2017.

What the court order means

It is not yet clear when DHS will begin to accept renewal applications. The district court has ordered DHS to issue a public notice and renewal instructions for DACA beneficiaries. However, the agency is expected to appeal the ruling and could ask an appeals court for an emergency stay of the district court’s order while an appeal proceeds. If it obtains a stay of the court order, it could reject renewal applications.

Fragomen is closely monitoring the disposition of the case and will provide updates as developments occur.

This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen.

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