Chad Wolf’s DACA Suspension Invalid, Federal Judge Rules

Chad Wolf DACA

Getty Department of Homeland Security acting Secretary testifies during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee o on September 23, 2020 in Washington, DC.

A federal judge ruled Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf had not been properly appointed to his position when he issued a memo in July effectively suspending DACA, or the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

DACA shields about 650,000 people from deportation who were brought to the United States as children. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June 2020 that President Donald Trump failed to follow rule-making procedures when the administration tried to end the Obama-era program in 2017. A window was left open for Trump to renew his efforts, according to the Associated Press. Wolf issued his memorandum in July.

Here’s what you need to know:

Wolf Has Been Serving As Acting DHS Secretary Since November 2019 & Has Not Been Confirmed by the Senate

Trump nominated Wolf as the acting DHS secretary following Kirstjen Nielsen’s resignation in April 2019. Trump said he would nominate Wolf to the job in August of that year, and Wolf began serving as acting secretary in November 2019. Wolf has not been confirmed by the Senate.

“DHS failed to follow the order of succession as it was lawfully designated,” U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis wrote, according to AP. “Therefore, the actions taken by purported Acting Secretaries, who were not properly in their roles according to the lawful order of succession, were taken without legal authority.”

Wolf’s memo limited new DACA applications and renewals.

The Senate held confirmation hearings in September 2020, but he has not received a full vote in the Senate. Wolf faced Sharp questions regarding handling of the coronavirus pandemic and civil unrest during the hearing. He was also asked about allegations that employees were under political pressure to modify intelligence assessments, The Wall Street Journal reported.

This isn’t the first time a federal judge has issued a ruling on an improper appointment under the Trump administration. In March, 2020, U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss said the administration violated the Federal Vacancies Reform Act in the appointment of Ken Cuccinelli to lead the lead U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, an agency within DHS. The judge said several of Cuccinelli’s rulings to tighten asylum directives should be “set aside,” according to NPR.

Immigration Attorney Karen Tumlin Said the Ruling Created ‘a Hopeful Day for a Lot of Young People’

Attorney Karen Tumlin, director of the Los Angeles-based Justice Action Center, told NBC the ruling means, “the effort in the Wolf memo to gut the DACA program is overturned.”

She said the ruling will effect more than a million people because its measure also included recent applicants and people seeking two-year renewals for protection under DACA. Wolf’s memo limited renewals to one year.

“This is really a hopeful day for a lot of young people across the country,” she said.

The National Immigration Law Center called Wolf’s memo “a cruel and divisive move that sought to upend the lives of over a million immigrant youth” in a Twitter thread.

“Our next step is to schedule a conference with the Court regarding the next steps and the relief that will come from today’s decision,” the thread said. “We will be sharing more information regarding what this decision means for #DACA in the coming days. #HomeIsHere”

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