A federal judge in New York ruled Saturday that Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf was not in his legal position when he suspended and limited protections for so-called “dreamers” from the DACA program, people who come into the country illegally as children, so those measures are now invalidated.
The ruling, from New York’s Eastern District Court, comes after Wolf issued an order last July that new applications to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program would not be allowed and that renewals were limited to one year, instead of two.
Wolf’s action was a reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court blocking in June an attempt by the Donald Trump Administration to end the DACA program, devised and implemented during the Barack Obama presidency.
Justice Nicholas Garaufis, the author of Saturday’s ruling, said a conference would be held at the courthouse to decide on the details of the order.
“Wolf was not legally serving as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (…) when he issued the Wolf Memo” that suspended DACA, the court document states.
Karen Tumlin, one of the lawyers in the case and director of the Los Angeles-based Justice Action Center, told local media that Saturday’s ruling assumes that “the Wolf Memorandum’s efforts to end the DACA program have been reversed.
Tumlin said the ruling affects more than a million people, including the most recent DACA applicants and those who asked for a two-year extension.
“It’s a very hopeful day for a lot of young people in this country,” he added.
In his ruling, the judge described a series of illegitimate changes in the leadership of the Department of Homeland Security, the agency responsible for immigration enforcement, that would affect both Wolf’s and his predecessor’s leadership, Kevin McAleenan.
“Based on the text of the order of succession operations, neither McAleenan nor Wolf had the legal authority to serve as acting secretary. Therefore, the Wolf Memorandum was not an exercise of legal authority,” he explains.
The ruling is part of an ongoing case brought by a DACA beneficiary, Martin Jonathan Batalla Vidal, and six others against the Department of Homeland Security, which was initiated in response to the state of Texas’ attempts to end the “dreamer” program.