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D.C. Federal Judge Rules DACA Must Continue; New Applications Accepted

News alert: On April 24, 2018, Federal Judge Bates of the District of Columbia ruled that the government's decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) was "virtually unexplained" and therefore unlawful. The judge further ruled that Department of Homeland Security (DHS) must continue to take renewal applications AND new applicants. This is a shift from two other district court rulings this year in California and New York that have in part struck down DHS' order to rescind DACA. In those decisions the courts have allowed only renewal applications to continue; new applications were still prohibited. If Tuesday’s ruling is upheld, new DACA applications will once more be processed by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

The ruling, however, is stayed for 90 days to give the the government time to provide a valid reason for terminating the program. Judge Bates opined the government's decision to phase out DACA "was arbitrary and capricious because the Department failed to adequately explain its conclusion that the program was unlawful," but has allowed DHS a limited opportunity to respond.

On September 5, 2017, the Trump administration ended the DACA program, leaving Congress six months to present legislation that would protect DACA recipients. To date, no legislation has passed. Currently USCIS is accepting renewal applications, but no new applicants may be admitted.

This recent decision, if upheld, will allow U.S. immigrants who qualify for DACA, but have never applied, to become DACA recipients and receive protections from deportation. If in 90 days the DHS does not provide a sufficient explanation to the Court as to the reasoning behind the termination of the DACA program, the Court’s ruling will be implemented, and DACA will be allowed to continue, pending an alternative ruling from a higher court.

Call our office today to find out if you or a loved one are eligible for DACA protections, and what you can do to prepare. Time is of the essence, as it is unclear whether or not the lower court's decision will be upheld by higher courts. Call us at 323-553-1541 to speak with one of our highly qualified immigration attorneys today.

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