The U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling today against the Trump administration, holding that its termination of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in 2017 was unlawful.

Key Points

  • In a 5-4 decision, the Court ruled that the administration’s termination of DACA must be vacated because it violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).
  • Chief Justice John Roberts authored the opinion and was joined in the majority by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor.
  • The Court found that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) did not provide a reasoned explanation for its termination of DACA because it failed to consider the “conspicuous issues” of whether to retain relief from deportation and “what if anything to do about the hardship to DACA recipients.”

Background: Since it began in 2012 under the Obama administration, DACA has provided temporary protection from deportation and the opportunity to obtain work authorization for roughly 700,000 undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children.

After the Trump administration announced its decision to terminate the program in September 2017, DACA recipients, immigrants’ rights groups, cities, states and universities sued to stop the administration’s efforts to end the program. Since 2017, the DHS has been enjoined from fully terminating the program and has continued accepting renewal DACA applications.

BAL Analysis: This is a significant win for Dreamers and their supporters. For the time being, DHS is still required to accept applications to renew DACA grants, and the ruling does not make immediate changes to the status quo. The matter has been sent back to DHS, and it is not yet known whether the agency will attempt before the November election to terminate the program again through the rulemaking process. The Court ruled on the way in which the administration terminated DACA, but not on the legality of the program itself. BAL is closely monitoring the administration’s response to the ruling and will provide updates and analysis as more information becomes available.

This alert has been provided by the BAL U.S. Practice group. For additional information, please contact

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