Fourth Circuit Appeals Court Rules Trump’s Decision to End DACA was Unlawful

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DACA/Dreamers rally
Credits: AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

President Donald Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was unlawful, according to the ruling of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Virginia.

In September last year, the Trump administration announced its decision to rescind the DACA program, which protects approximately 800,000 Dreamers from deportation.

Dreamers and their advocates filed lawsuits challenging its decision. They argued that the government violated the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) and common law principles of estoppel.

Trump administration’s decision to rescind the DACA was “arbitrary and capricious”

In its ruling on Friday, the appeals court stated that the Trump administration failed to provide adequate explanation for its decision to rescind the DACA program. Therefore, its decision was “arbitrary and capricious,” a violation of the APA.

The Trump administration’s lawyers argued ending the DACA program was an agency decision. Publishing a notice for public comments is not required under the APA. The appeals court agreed with their argument, but concluded that the government still violated the federal law.

“As we explain, we agree with the district court that Plaintiffs’ challenges are subject to judicial review. We also agree with the district court that the government’s decision to rescind DACA did not require notice and comment under the APA. But the decision nonetheless violated the APA because—on the administrative record before us—it was not adequately explained and thus was arbitrary and capricious…,” according to the appeals court.

The appeals court added that then-Acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke “rescinded a general enforcement policy in existence for over five years and affecting hundreds of thousands of enrollees based on the view that the policy was unlawful.”

“Nor did the Department adequately account for the reliance interests that would be affected by its decision. Hundreds of thousands of people had structured their lives on the availability of deferred action during the over five years between the implementation of DACA and the decision to rescind,” the opinion reads. “Although the government insists that Acting Secretary Duke considered these interests in connection with her decision to rescind DACA, her Memo makes no mention of them.”

Fourth Circuit ruling is in line with the decision of the 9th Circuit

The ruling of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit on the issue is in line with the decision of the Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.

In February 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear Trump administration’s appeal regarding the DACA program because it tried to skip the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in California.

In November last year, 9th Circuit ordered the government to maintain the DACA program citing the reason the “plaintiffs are likely to succeed on their claim that the rescission of DACA…is arbitrary, capricious, or otherwise not in accordance with law.”