A federal court in New York invalidated the Trump administration’s recent restrictions on the program that protects young undocumented immigrants Saturday because it found Chad Wolf to not be legally acting in his role as acting Homeland Security secretary when he enacted them.
The ruling will restore the program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, after Wolf effectively suspended it in the wake of a Supreme Court ruling against President Trump’s plan to end DACA in June.
The effect of the ruling will allow, for the first time since 2017, immigrants who are eligible for DACA but were too young to apply when the Trump administration cut off new applicants, to now apply for it.
DACA, which began under President Obama in 2012, allows undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children to be protected from deportation, letting them work legally and obtain a driver’s license.
In July, a month after the Supreme Court had argued that the DHS was obligated to reinstate the DACA program, Wolf issued a memorandum calling to reject all pending and future initial requests for DACA and to shorten all renewals for existing applicants to one year instead of two, among other restrictions on the program.
U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis determined that the sequence of events and legal maneuvers leading up to Wolf’s installation as the head of the DHS resulted in his issuing the memorandum while he was serving unlawfully.
The decision marks a victory for immigrant rights groups in Queens like Make the Road New York, whose members were some of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
“This is an incredible victory for DACA recipients and first-time applicants like me,” said Johana Larios, a plaintiff in the lawsuit and member of Make the Road New York, in a statement. “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 and an organizational plaintiff in the case, said that he hopes the decision signals a prelude to what he expects from a Biden administration in bolstering the DACA program.
New York Attorney General Letitia James, who was part of a coalition of 17 attorneys general who made two filings against the Trump administration asking the court to vacate the Wolf memo as unlawful, also celebrated the news.
“The Supreme Court already ruled that President Trump’s attempts to unfairly punish Dreamers was unlawful, but now another federal court has ruled that this administration’s attempts to circumvent the courts in an effort to target and punish innocent young people is just as unlawful,” said James in a statement.