Supreme Court blocks Trump plan to end DACA program

June 18th, 2020 by
  BY JOHN KRUZEL –  The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday to block the Trump administration from ending an Obama-era program that shields nearly 700,000 young undocumented immigrants from deportation, upending a key feature of President Trump’s immigration agenda. In a 5-4 decision that largely fell along ideological lines, the justices said the administration failed to give an adequate justification for terminating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, as required by federal law. “The dispute before the Court is not whether [Department of Homeland Security] may rescind DACA. All parties agree that it may. The dispute is instead primarily about the procedure the agency followed in doing so,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in a majority opinion that was joined by the court’s more liberal justices. The ruling keeps intact a program that is open to an estimated 1.3 million non-citizens who are eligible for DACA by virtue of having been brought to the U.S. as children and who have maintained residency and who meet the education or military service requirements and other criteria. Trump blasted the ruling as politically motivated and an affront to conservative values. “These horrible & politically charged decisions coming out of the Supreme Court are shotgun blasts into the face of people that are proud to call themselves Republicans or Conservatives. We need more Justices or we will lose our 2nd. Amendment & everything else. Vote Trump 2020!” Trump tweeted.

The court’s decision Thursday does not prevent the Trump administration from working to rescind the DACA program in the future, meaning the fate of the deportation reprieve could be decided by voters in the November general election.

The case traces back to 2012, when then-President Obama established DACA through executive action. Nearly 700,000 people are now enrolled in the program, which grants a renewable two-year deferral from deportation and makes applicants eligible for work permits, driver’s licenses and health insurance.

Trump, who campaigned on a promise to end Obama’s “illegal executive amnesties,” announced plans in 2017 to rescind the program. The move was met with swift legal challenges, and federal lower court judges in three cases ruled against the Trump administration. Appearing before the Supreme Court last fall, the Trump administration argued that its decision to rescind DACA is not reviewable by courts. A majority of justices rejected that argument Thursday, but several of the court’s reliably conservative members embraced the view in a dissenting opinion. In his dissent, Justice Clarence Thomas argued that the Obama-era program was “unlawful from its inception,” and that the court should not have second-guessed the Trump administration’s decision to rescind it. “The Court could have made clear that the solution respondents seek must come from the Legislative Branch. Instead, the majority has decided to prolong DHS’ initial overreach by providing a stopgap measure of its own,” Thomas wrote. “In doing so, it has given the green light for future political battles to be fought in this Court rather than where they rightfully belong — the political branches,” added Thomas, whose dissent was joined by fellow conservative Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch.

The decision to preserve DACA marks the third time Roberts cast the deciding vote on a major Trump immigration policy, and is likely to further cement his image as the court’s new swing vote.

Roberts previously sided with the conservative justices to uphold the administration’s restrictions on inbound travel from several Muslim-majority countries. Last term he joined the liberal bloc to prevent the administration from adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census, based on similar legal grounds as the DACA decision.

In both the census and DACA cases, the Supreme Court’s decision was guided by a federal statute called the Administrative Procedure Act, which concerns how much decision-making power resides with federal agencies. The narrow issue before the court in DACA was whether the Trump administration’s repeal was legally justified or if it was “arbitrary and capricious,” and thus illegal under the act.

In finding that the administration violated the act, Roberts was joined by liberal Justices Ruth Bader GinsburgStephen Breyer and Elena Kagan. Justice Sonia Sotomayor also signed onto the majority opinion, but said she would have left open the possibility of the DACA rescission being challenged on equal protection grounds.

Feel free to contact our office for any questions or concerns – (818) 550-1111 – Aratta Law Firm, APC

USCIS Preparing to Resume Public Services on June 4

May 28th, 2020 by

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is preparing some domestic offices to reopen and resume non-emergency public services on or after June 4. On March 18, USCIS temporarily suspended routine in-person services at its field offices, asylum offices and application support centers (ASCs) to help slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). USCIS is following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines to protect our workforce and the public. For the latest information on the status of individual offices, check our office closures page
 
While certain offices are temporarily closed, USCIS continues to provide limited emergency in-person services. Please call the USCIS Contact Center for assistance with emergency services.
 
As services begin to reopen, offices will reduce the number of appointments and interviews to ensure social distancing, allow time for cleaning and reduce waiting room occupancy. Appointment notices will contain information on safety precautions that visitors to USCIS facilities must follow.
 
If you are feeling sick, please do not go to your appointment. Follow the instructions on your appointment notice to reschedule your appointment for when you are healthy. There is no penalty for rescheduling your appointment if you are sick.  uscis.gov/visitorpolicy
 
Feel free to contact our office with any questions or concerns at (818)550-1111

US immigration agency says it might not make payroll without congressional help

May 19th, 2020 by

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is warning that it is being hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic and that it will soon exhaust its funding and might be unable to meet its payroll without significant help from Congress — as the number of applications from immigrants dries up.

“Given the unprecedented nature of the global pandemic, there is no historical data that can be used to project the scope and duration of COVID-19’s impact on USCIS’ revenue,” said the email to staff by Deputy Director for Policy Joseph Edlow, a copy of which was obtained by Fox News. “USCIS will exhaust its funding this summer, and without congressional intervention, we risk not being able to make payroll and will have to take drastic actions to keep the agency afloat,” he said. USCIS offices closed in March as part of the effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus, suspending in-person services at field offices and asylum offices. President Trump has also placed significant restrictions on green cards for those already in the country — which are usually handled by USCIS. Unlike other government agencies, USCIS is a fee-based agency, meaning it is primarily funded by the money coming from fees that immigrants pay to have their applications processed. But Edlow said that since the declaration of a national emergency, application and petition receipts “dropped to half their previous levels and with them, agency revenue that keeps our doors open.”Edlow said that, even with an already-planned hike in fees coming soon, USCIS is seeking $1.2 billion from Congress to address budget shortfalls for both fiscal year (FY) 2020 and the start of 2021. He said that such an ask would not add to the deficit, as it would add a 10 percent surcharge to application fees. “We will be working closely with Congress and urging them to take swift action so USCIS can continue to administer our nation’s lawful immigration system, safeguard the homeland, and protect the American people,” he wrote. When asked for comment by Fox News, a USCIS spokesperson said: “Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, USCIS has seen a dramatic decrease in revenue and is seeking a one-time emergency request for funding to ensure we can carry out our mission of administering our nation’s lawful immigration system, safeguarding its integrity, and protecting the American people. Importantly, this funding proposal protects American taxpayers by not adding to the deficit and requiring USCIS to pay the money back to the U.S. Treasury.” However, it is not clear if there is much appetite from Congress to provide such aid. A $3 trillion stimulus package passed by House Democrats on Friday — but which appears doomed in the Senate — does not include any relief for USCIS. A House Democratic aide said Congress is reviewing the USCIS bailout request. “The Administration has brought this request to Congress, and we are currently seeking more information about their proposal,”  the aide told Fox News.

USCIS Temporary Office Closure Extended until at least April 7

March 27th, 2020 by
On March 18, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services temporarily suspended in-person services at its field offices, asylum offices, and Application Support Centers (ASCs) to help slow the spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). USCIS offices will reopen on April 7 unless the public closures are extended further. Employees in these offices are continuing to perform mission-essential services that do not require face-to-face contact with the public. Feel free to contact our office with any questions or concerns. We are here to help.