Nat'l Ass'n v. Trump, Civil Action No. 17–1907 (JDB)

CourtU.S. District Court — District of Columbia
Writing for the CourtJOHN D. BATES, United States District Judge
Citation298 F.Supp.3d 209
Parties NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF COLORED PEOPLE, et al., Plaintiffs, v. Donald J. TRUMP, et al., Defendants. Trustees of Princeton University, et al., Plaintiffs, v. United States of America, et al., Defendants.
Decision Date24 April 2018
Docket NumberCivil Action No. 17–1907 (JDB), Civil Action No. 17–2325 (JDB)

298 F.Supp.3d 209

NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF COLORED PEOPLE, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
Donald J. TRUMP, et al., Defendants.


Trustees of Princeton University, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
United States of America, et al., Defendants.

Civil Action No. 17–1907 (JDB)
Civil Action No. 17–2325 (JDB)

United States District Court, District of Columbia.

Signed April 24, 2018


298 F.Supp.3d 215

Douglas James McNamara, Julia Horwitz, Julie S. Selesnick, Joseph M. Sellers, Cohen, Milstein, Sellers & Toll, Washington, DC, for Plaintiffs.

Kate Bailey, Rachael Lynn Westmoreland, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, DC, for Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

JOHN D. BATES, United States District Judge

These cases present an array of administrative and constitutional challenges to the Department of Homeland Security's ("DHS") rescission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals ("DACA") program. Though the government disputes these challenges on the merits, its primary defenses concern the Court's authority to hear the cases: the government contends that most plaintiffs lack standing, that the Immigration and Nationality Act ("INA") deprives the Court of subject-matter jurisdiction, and that the Department's decision to rescind DACA is not subject to review under the Administrative Procedure Act ("APA") because it was committed to agency discretion by law. The government has moved to dismiss the complaint in its entirety, and plaintiffs have moved for summary judgment only on their APA claims.

These are just two of a series of challenges to the September 2017 rescission of DACA that have already been before several district courts, two circuit courts of appeals, and the Supreme Court on two occasions. At this time, two preliminary injunctions are in place that require DHS to accept applications for the renewal of DACA benefits, but not to accept new DACA applications. Here, through their pending motions, plaintiffs seek permanent injunctive relief, although only on their APA claims. And the relief they seek would reach new as well as renewal DACA applications.

For the reasons that follow, the Court concludes that it has both jurisdiction and statutory authority to hear plaintiffs' APA and constitutional claims. The Court further concludes that, under the APA, DACA's rescission was arbitrary and capricious because the Department failed adequately

298 F.Supp.3d 216

to explain its conclusion that the program was unlawful. Neither the meager legal reasoning nor the assessment of litigation risk provided by DHS to support its rescission decision is sufficient to sustain termination of the DACA program. Thus, plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment will be granted in part, and the decision to rescind DACA will be vacated and remanded to DHS. Vacatur of DACA's rescission will mean that DHS must accept and process new as well as renewal DACA applications. The Court will stay its order of vacatur for ninety days, however, to allow the agency an opportunity to better explain its rescission decision.

BACKGROUND

I. THE IMPLEMENTATION AND RESCISSION OF DACA

A. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals

In 2012, then-Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano issued a memorandum establishing the DACA program, which allowed certain undocumented aliens1 who had been brought to the United States as children to be treated as low priorities for removal under the federal immigration laws. See AR 1.2 According to the Secretary's memorandum (the "DACA Memo"), these young people generally "lacked the intent to violate the law" when they entered the United States as children and, in many cases, "kn[e]w only this country as home" and had "contributed to [the] country in significant ways." AR 1–2. DACA was therefore undertaken as "an exercise of ... prosecutorial discretion" to "ensure that our enforcement resources are not expended on these low priority cases." AR 1.

DACA was available to any undocumented alien who: (1) came to the United States when she was under the age of sixteen; (2) had lived in the United States continuously since at least June 15, 2007; (3) was enrolled in school or had graduated from high school or been honorably discharged from the military; (4) had not been convicted of certain criminal offenses and posed no threat to national security or public safety; and (5) was under the age of thirty. AR 1. Aliens who met these criteria were eligible for renewable, two-year grants of "deferred action" on their removal from the United States. AR 2–3; see 8 C.F.R. § 274a.12(c)(14) (defining deferred action as "an act of administrative convenience to the government which gives some [removal] cases lower priority"). As the DACA Memo was careful to point out, however, the program "confer[red] no substantive right, immigration status or pathway to citizenship," as "[o]nly the Congress, acting through its legislative authority, can confer these rights." AR 3.

Individuals who received deferred action under DACA were also eligible for a host of other benefits under preexisting statutes and DHS regulations. These benefits included work authorization, 8 C.F.R. § 274a.12(a)(11), social security numbers,

298 F.Supp.3d 217

id. § 1.3(a)(4)(vi), advance parole (i.e., preauthorization to travel to the United States without a visa), id. § 212.5, and a limited class of public assistance, such as state and federal aid for medical emergencies, 8 U.S.C. §§ 1611(b)(1), 1621(b)(1). Benefits like these allowed DACA recipients to work, travel abroad, access credit, and otherwise lead productive lives during their periods of deferred action.

To be considered for deferred action under DACA, an applicant had to provide DHS with certain identifying information, including her name, mailing address, and contact information. See Decl. of Maria De La Cruz Perales Sanchez ("Perales Decl.") [ECF No. 28–8] ¶ 11; see also Form I–821D, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Servs., Consideration for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, https://www.uscis.gov/i-821d. Although many applicants feared that this information would later be used to initiate removal proceedings against them, see Perales Decl. ¶¶ 10, 24, the Department assured applicants that their information would in most cases be "protected from disclosure to [U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE") ] and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for the purpose of immigration enforcement proceedings." See U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Servs., Instructions for Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, https://www.uscis.gov/i-821d. Relying on these representations, hundreds of thousands of undocumented aliens applied for and received deferred action under the DACA program. See, e.g., Perales Decl. ¶ 10; Decl. of John Doe # 1 ¶ 6; Decl. of John Doe # 2 ¶ 5. By late 2017, nearly 800,000 individuals had been granted deferred action under DACA. AR 242.

B. Deferred Action for Parents of Americans

Two years after DACA's implementation, DHS issued a second memorandum, this time purporting to establish a deferred-action program called Deferred Action for Parents of Americans ("DAPA"). AR 37–41. As its name suggests, DAPA would have offered deferred action to parents of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents who were themselves unlawfully present in the United States.3 AR 40–41. The DAPA memorandum also purported to expand the DACA program in certain respects: it would have removed the thirty-year age cap, made the deferred-action grants last for three years instead of two, and required that an alien need only have been present in the United States since January 1, 2010 to be eligible. AR 39–40.

Before DAPA took effect, a coalition of states, led by Texas, sued to block its implementation on grounds that it violated both the APA and the Take Care Clause of the Constitution. SeeTexas, 86 F.Supp.3d at 604 & n.1, 607 (citing U.S. Const. art. II, § 3 ). The district court granted the states' motion for a preliminary injunction, concluding that they were likely to succeed on their procedural APA claim that DAPA (including its expansion of DACA) should have been promulgated using notice and comment. Id. at 671–72 ; see 5 U.S.C. § 553. In part, this was because the Department's implementation of DACA suggested that DAPA would not "genuinely leave[ ] the agency and its employees free

298 F.Supp.3d 218

to exercise discretion." Texas, 86 F.Supp.3d at 604 at 670 (emphasis, alterations, and internal quotation marks omitted). The district court found that only about 5% of all DACA applications had been denied, and the government could not say how many of those had been denied for discretionary reasons. Id. at 609. This led the court to conclude that the DAPA Memo's suggestion that immigration officers could exercise case-by-case discretion was "merely pretext." Id. at 669 n. 101 ; see Texas, 809 F.3d at 173 (agreeing that although "[t]he DACA and DAPA Memos purport to grant discretion, ... there was evidence from DACA's implementation that DAPA's discretionary language was pretextual").

The Fifth Circuit affirmed, holding that the states had demonstrated a...

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33 practice notes
  • New Mexico v. McAleenan, No. CIV 19-0534 JB\SCY
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. District of New Mexico
    • March 31, 2020
    ...Response at 26 (citing FCC v. Fox TV Stations, Inc., 556 U.S. 502, 515, 129 S.Ct. 1800, 173 L.Ed.2d 738 (2009) ; NAACP v. Trump, 298 F. Supp. 3d 209, 238 (D.D.C. 2018) (Bates, J.)).Next, New Mexico and Albuquerque argue that ending Safe Release is reviewable " ‘final agency action.’ " Respo......
  • State v. United States, Civil Action 1:18-CV-00068
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Southern District of Texas
    • July 16, 2021
    ...the attempt to end the program. These lawsuits included: Batalla Vidal v. Trump, 279 F.Supp.3d 401 (E.D.N.Y. 2018); NAACP v. Trump, 298 F.Supp.3d 209 (D.D.C. 2018); Regents of Univ. of Cal. v. United States Dep't of Homeland Sec, 279 F.Supp.3d 1011 (N.D. Cal. 2018); and Casa de Md. v. Unite......
  • Nw. Immigrant Rights Project v. U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Servs., Civil Action No. 19-3283 (RDM)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • October 8, 2020
    ...permit a member of an association to proceed anonymously, see Nat'l Ass'n for the Advancement of Colored People v. Trump, 298 F. Supp. 3d 209, 226 & n.10 (D.D.C. 2018) (subsequent history omitted), Plaintiffs have failed to lay a proper foundation for making such a request. Beyond that thre......
  • Casa De Md. v. U.S. Dep't of Homeland Sec., No. 18-1521
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • May 17, 2019
    ...Regents , 908 F.3d at 504 (holding § 1252(g) doesn’t deprive courts of jurisdiction to review DACA’s rescission); NAACP v. Trump , 298 F.Supp.3d 209, 224 (D.D.C. 2018) (rejecting as "misplaced" government’s reliance on AAADC and finding § 1252(g) didn’t bar review of challenges to DACA’s re......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
33 cases
  • New Mexico v. McAleenan, No. CIV 19-0534 JB\SCY
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. District of New Mexico
    • March 31, 2020
    ...Response at 26 (citing FCC v. Fox TV Stations, Inc., 556 U.S. 502, 515, 129 S.Ct. 1800, 173 L.Ed.2d 738 (2009) ; NAACP v. Trump, 298 F. Supp. 3d 209, 238 (D.D.C. 2018) (Bates, J.)).Next, New Mexico and Albuquerque argue that ending Safe Release is reviewable " ‘final agency action.’ " Respo......
  • State v. United States, Civil Action 1:18-CV-00068
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Southern District of Texas
    • July 16, 2021
    ...the attempt to end the program. These lawsuits included: Batalla Vidal v. Trump, 279 F.Supp.3d 401 (E.D.N.Y. 2018); NAACP v. Trump, 298 F.Supp.3d 209 (D.D.C. 2018); Regents of Univ. of Cal. v. United States Dep't of Homeland Sec, 279 F.Supp.3d 1011 (N.D. Cal. 2018); and Casa de Md. v. Unite......
  • Nw. Immigrant Rights Project v. U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Servs., Civil Action No. 19-3283 (RDM)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • October 8, 2020
    ...permit a member of an association to proceed anonymously, see Nat'l Ass'n for the Advancement of Colored People v. Trump, 298 F. Supp. 3d 209, 226 & n.10 (D.D.C. 2018) (subsequent history omitted), Plaintiffs have failed to lay a proper foundation for making such a request. Beyond that thre......
  • Casa De Md. v. U.S. Dep't of Homeland Sec., No. 18-1521
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • May 17, 2019
    ...Regents , 908 F.3d at 504 (holding § 1252(g) doesn’t deprive courts of jurisdiction to review DACA’s rescission); NAACP v. Trump , 298 F.Supp.3d 209, 224 (D.D.C. 2018) (rejecting as "misplaced" government’s reliance on AAADC and finding § 1252(g) didn’t bar review of challenges to DACA’s re......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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