California Attorney General Xavier Becerra – joined by the Attorneys General for Maine, Maryland and Minnesota, as well as the University of California, individual Dreamers and other plaintiffs – obtained a preliminary injunction against the Trump Administration over its decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The Jan. 9 ruling in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California blocks the Trump Administration’s rescission of DACA while the underlying case continues. The Court determined that the merits of California’s case are strong, that there would be immediate harm if the Administration’s plan to terminate DACA were to proceed, and that the public interest is served by prohibiting the Administration from ending DACA before the legal issues are ruled on.

“Dreamers’ lives were thrown into chaos when the Trump Administration tried to terminate the DACA program without obeying the law,” said Attorney General Becerra. “Tonight’s ruling is a huge step in the right direction. America is and has been home to Dreamers who courageously came forward, applied for DACA and did everything the federal government asked of them. They followed DACA’s rules, they succeeded in school, at work and in business, and they have contributed in building a better America. We will fight at every turn for their rights and opportunities so they may continue to contribute to America.”

In November 2017, Attorney General Becerra filed a motion seeking this preliminary injunction against the Trump Administration over its decision to end DACA. In that motion, Attorney General Becerra set forth the federal government’s violations of the United States Constitution and federal laws designed to ensure that our government treats everyone fairly and transparently.  California and the other plaintiffs in this action have continued to emphasize that terminating the program is causing irreparable harm to DACA recipients as well as to the States and communities in which they live.

In July 2017, Attorney General Becerra led 20 attorneys general in sending a letter to President Trump urging him to maintain and defend DACA. In the letter, the attorneys general explained how DACA has benefited their states and the nation as a whole and called on Trump to fulfill his public commitment to Dreamers, whom he called “incredible kids” who should be treated “with heart.” Roughly a quarter of all DACA grantees, more than 200,000 young people, live in California.  All 20 of the signatories to this letter have since joined lawsuits challenging the Trump Administration’s rescission of DACA. 

William Alsup, U.S. District Judge for the Northern District of California, ruled in part yesterday:

“For the foregoing reasons, defendants ARE HEREBY ORDERED AND ENJOINED, pending final judgment herein or other order, to maintain the DACA program on a nationwide basis on the same terms and conditions as were in effect before the rescission on September 5, 2017, including allowing DACA enrollees to renew their enrollments, with the exceptions (1) that new applications from applicants who have never before received deferred action need not be processed; (2) that the advance parole feature need not be continued for the time being for anyone; and (3) that defendants may take administrative steps to make sure fair discretion is exercised on an individualized basis for each renewal application.

“Nothing in this order prohibits the agency from proceeding to remove any individual, including any DACA enrollee, who it determines poses a risk to national security or public safety, or otherwise deserves, in its judgment, to be removed. Nor does this order bar the agency from granting advance parole in individual cases it finds deserving, or from granting deferred action to new individuals on an ad hoc basis.

“The agency shall post reasonable public notice that it will resume receiving DACA renewal applications and prescribe a process consistent with this order. The agency shall keep records of its actions on all DACA-related applications and provide summary reports to the Court (and counsel) on the first business day of each quarter.

“By way of explanation, while plaintiffs have demonstrated that DACA recipients, as well as their families, schools, employers, and communities, are likely to suffer substantial, irreparable harm as a result of the rescission, they have not made a comparable showing as to individuals who have never applied for or obtained DACA.

“This order will not require advance parole. Unlike the widespread harm to plaintiffs and our economy that would result were the 689,800 DACA enrollees to lose their ability to work in this country, plaintiffs have not demonstrated that comparable harm will occur as a result of DACA recipients’ inability to travel abroad. True, Individual Plaintiffs Jirayut Latthivongskorn and Norma Ramirez describe professional disadvantages that may result if they are unable to travel internationally. These, however, do not amount to hardships justifying a provisional injunction requiring DHS to resume accepting applications for advance parole. However, as stated, nothing in this order would bar individuals from asking for such agency relief or bar the agency from granting it in deserving cases.

“With respect to geographical scope, this order finds a nationwide injunction is appropriate. Our country has a strong interest in the uniform application of immigration law and policy. Plaintiffs have established injury that reaches beyond the geographical bounds of the Northern District of California. The problem affects every state and territory of the United States.

“In February 2017, our court of appeals considered this very issue in Washington v. Trump, 847 F.3d 1151, 1167 (9th Cir. 2017), and upheld a nationwide injunction imposed by a single district court, observing that limiting the geographic scope of an injunction on an immigration enforcement policy “would run afoul of the constitutional and statutory requirements for uniform immigration law and policy” and that, as here, “the government ha[d] not proposed a workable alternative.” Indeed, the Fifth Circuit reached the same conclusion in determining the appropriate scope of an injunction over DAPA, Texas, 809 F.3d at 187–88, holding that uniform application of the immigration laws justified a nationwide injunction. So too here.

“Limiting relief to the States in suit or the Individual Plaintiffs would result in administrative confusion and simply provoke many thousands of individual lawsuits all over the country. The most practical relief is to maintain DACA in the same manner to which the agency and recipients are accustomed, subject to the exceptions above noted,” Alsup wrote.