Federal Judge Rules Acting DHS Secretary Lacked Authority To Suspend DACA Program

Judge Nicholas Garaufis of the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of New York ruled Saturday, that Chad Wolf was not legally serving as the acting secretary of homeland security when he issued a memo in July that stopped new applicants to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Judge Garaufis said Wolf’s appointment violated the Homeland Security Act of 2002. Hence Wolf’s memo is invalid.

Wolf has been serving as acting homeland security secretary since November 2019; he has not been confirmed by the Senate. The last homeland security secretary to be confirmed by the Senate was Kirstjen Nielsen, who resigned in April 2019. In August 2020, Trump said he would nominate Wolf to the official job.

In June 2020, the Supreme Court blocked the Trump administration’s attempt in 2017 to cancel DACA, saying the administration’s reasoning was ” arbitrary and capricious.” In July 2020, a federal court in Maryland told the administration to start accepting new applicants.

Instead, Wolf issued a memo on July 28, 2020 that, Judge Garaufis wrote, “effectively suspended DACA” pending a Department of Homeland Security review. Wolf’s memo said the administration would reject new applicants. It also said the administration would renew protections for immigrants who already have them, but for just one year, instead of two years, which was the previous policy.