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This article was prepared with the assistance of ABIL, the Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers, of which Loan Huynh, Fredrikson Immigration Department Chair, is a member.

On December 4, 2020, a U.S. district court vacated a memorandum issued by Chad Wolf on July 28, 2020, which made certain changes to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and ordered DHS to reopen the program to new applications.

The court found that Chad Wolf was without lawful authority to serve as Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) when he issued the memorandum, and that therefore the DACA program must be governed by the terms in existence before the attempted rescission of September 2017, when the Trump administration began its efforts to dismantle DACA. The court said that attempts by Administrator Peter Gaynor and Mr. Wolf to ratify Wolf's prior actions were "dead letter" and had no legal significance because the order of succession was not followed as designated under the Homeland Security Act.

Among other things, the court ordered DHS to post a notice on its website and on the websites of "all other relevant agencies," within three calendar days of the order, stating that:

  • DHS is accepting first-time requests for consideration of deferred action under DACA, renewal requests, and advance parole requests, based on the terms of the DACA program before September 5, 2017, and in accordance with the court's memorandum and order of November 14, 2020; and
  • Deferred action and employment authorization documents granted for only one year are extended to two years, in line with pre-Wolf memorandum policy.

The court also ordered the government to provide individual mailed notices to all class members by December 31, 2020, and to produce a status report on the DACA program by January 4, 2021.


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