Summary of Court Ruling Partially Blocking Rescission of DACA Program

On January 9, District Judge William Alsup (Northern District of California) granted Plaintiffs’ motion for provisional relief, ordering the Federal Government to maintain the DACA program on a nationwide basis as it operated on September 5, 2017 (the date of its rescission), with several exceptions.

The court ruled that the September 5 rescission was arbitrary because it relied on an erroneous opinion of the Attorney General about the underlying legality of the DACA program.   The court also rejected the Government’s alternative justification for the rescission – that it was trying to manage an orderly wind-down of the program to avoid the prospect of a successful legal challenge to the DACA program.  The court recognized the “reliance interest” among DACA recipients, their employers, their colleges, and their communities, and criticized the Government for not documenting its consideration of these interests in its decision-making process.  (Geoff Young submitted a declaration in this case describing the reliance interests among medical students and our member institutions).  The court also took judicial notice of several of President Trump’s tweets in support of its conclusion that provisional relief was warranted.

Specifically, the court ordered the Government to allow individuals with DACA status to renew their enrollments.  However, the court’s order does not require the Government to process new applications for DACA status and it expressly permits the Government to deny individuals with DACA status permission to travel overseas and then return to the U.S. (“advance parole”).  It also allows the Government to exercise “fair discretion” in deciding individual applications for renewal of DACA status.

The order directs the Government to post “reasonable public notice” about the process for renewal applications.  As of 6 pm today, the USCIS website still has a red-letter headline saying “DACA is ending” but has added a box saying: “This page contains information that is no longer current but remains on our site for reference purposes.” There is no information yet about reinstating a process for renewal applications. 

The California case is one of several challenges to the Government’s decision to rescind the DACA program.  Other courts could issue rulings in the near future.