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DACA Survives: SCOTUS Blocks Trump Administration Bid to End Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program

On June 18, 2020, the Supreme Court of the United States issued its decision in DHS v. Regents of the University of California, No. 18-587, effectively blocking the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) attempt to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

History of the DACA Program

The DACA program, which was implemented in 2012, provides work authorization, eligibility for federal benefits, and protection from deportation to approximately 700,000 qualifying individuals, known as DREAMers, who were brought to the United States as children.

In 2017, DHS issued a memorandum terminating the program. DACA recipients challenged the decision in multiple federal courts, which issued nationwide injunctions blocking DHS from putting an end to the program. Three federal appellate courts, including the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, prevented the rescission of DACA on the grounds that DHS had not adequately explained its reasoning for rescinding the program and, thus, that the rescission likely violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). DHS appealed to the Supreme Court for a final decision on the issue.

Supreme Court Holds DACA Rescission Was Arbitrary and Capricious

The issue before the Supreme Court was not whether DHS had the authority to rescind DACA, but whether DHS had followed the appropriate procedures for doing so. The Supreme Court held that DHS’s decision to rescind DACA was “arbitrary and capricious,” and thus a violation of the APA due to the agency’s failure to perform a sufficiently reasoned analysis in making its decision. As a result, DHS’s decision to rescind DACA was set aside pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 706(2)(A), the section of the APA that governs judicial review of agency actions.

Immediate Impact of the Ruling

As a result of the Supreme Court’s decision, the DACA program remains intact for the time being and DACA recipients may continue renewing their benefits under the program. At this stage, however, it remains unclear whether DHS will resume accepting new applications from prospective DREAMers.

The Future of DACA

The Supreme Court decision is narrow in its holding and the future of DACA is far from secure. The ruling leaves open the possibility that DHS will still rescind DACA after following required procedures; however, whether rescission will be attempted or can be accomplished during an election year is questionable.

© 2020, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C., All Rights Reserved.National Law Review, Volume X, Number 171


About this Author

Caroline Page Immigration Lawyer Ogletree Deakins Law Firm

Caroline Page joined the firm as an associate in January 2020, where she practices in the area of business immigration law.  She is a 2013 graduate of the University of South Carolina, where she earned a B.A. in Political Science, cum laude.  Caroline received her J.D. from the University of South Carolina School of Law in May 2016.

Prior to joining the firm, Caroline worked as the Patents & Contracts Manager for the University of South Carolina’s Technology Commercialization Office where she reviewed intellectual property-related...

Curtis Chow, Ogletree Deakins Law Firm, Labor and Immigration Attorney

Curtis Y. Chow is a member of the Immigration, International, and Employment Practice Groups of Ogletree Deakins, representing employers in all aspects of U.S. immigration law and compliance, as well as international employment matters.  Based in the Columbia, South Carolina office, Curtis represents clients across the United States and internationally in a broad range of industries, including technology, retail, manufacturing, automotive, air transportation, biotechnology/biopharmaceuticals, education, entertainment, and professional services.


Lee Depret-Bixio joined Ogletree Deakins in 2003 and she practices exclusively in the area of business immigration law.  She assists U.S. and foreign companies in obtaining and maintaining employment-based nonimmigrant and immigrant visas for key employees and assists clients with state and federal employment verification (I-9) compliance and enforcement issues. Having lived and worked in France for several years, Ms. Depret-Bixio is fluent in French.


Ms. Depret-Bixio represents employers of all sizes and...