DACA Under Review at D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals


A three-judge panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on Friday deliberated the legality of President Donald Trump’s administration decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Legal teams on each side of the matter put forth arguments regarding the Trump administration’s September 2017 decision to rescind DACA which deferred deportation for hundreds of thousands of immigrants who originally arrived to the United States as children. The panel is considering an appeal of U.S. District Court Judge John Bates’ ruling last year that the DACA reversal was unlawful.  Friday’s hearing was focused on the various rationales the administration has described that lend support to its decision to end the DACA policy, not the questionable legality of the DACA program itself, which is a separate legal issue.

DACA was first implemented in 2012 as unilateral effort by then President Barack Obama to change U.S. immigration law by delaying or deferring the deportation of children who originally entered the country illegally with their parents.

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The judicial review of DACA has taken quite a circuitous route of late- both the 2nd and 4th US Circuit Courts of Appeals have deliberated the legal authority the Trump administration has to terminate the program, and last year, the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a ruling that rejected the administration’s decision to rescind DACA.

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The primary legal objection that’s been leveled against Obama’s DACA policy is that the measure was never passed into law by the U.S. Congress- since the policy was put into place via an executive branch memorandum rather than as a law first passed by Congress and then signed into law by the President, critics contend that it was a overreach of executive power that circumvented the Constitutionally established procedure as to how laws are properly enacted.

Back in 2017, the Department of Homeland Security rescinded a separate Obama-era memorandum that created the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) policy which attempted to offer a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrant parents whose children subsequently became residents or U.S. citizens.