People For the American Way Foundation

PFAW Foundation Brief Urges Supreme Court to Uphold DACA and Protect Dreamers

People For in Action
PFAW Foundation Brief Urges Supreme Court to Uphold DACA and Protect Dreamers
School kid decorations on the US to Mexico border wall in Arizona. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

On November 12, the Supreme Court will hear argument in three cases concerning the Department of Homeland Security’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. After a lifetime of living in the shadows, DACA has allowed many young immigrants to work, attend college, and live without immediate fear of deportation. People For the American Way Foundation and allied organizations are urging the Court to rule against the Trump administration and restore some sense of security, albeit temporary, for Dreamers—our friends and neighbors, many who bravely serve our country. The introduction to our Supreme Court amicus brief follows below. Click here to download a PDF copy of the full brief.

The Department of Homeland Security (“DHS” or the “Department”) failed to consider serious reliance interests engendered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) program prior to termination, in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act (“APA”). In this brief, amici seek to highlight some of the significant commitments in education, investments in home ownership, and service to our military program that participants have made in reliance on DACA.

The DACA program, announced on June 15, 2012, provided eligible undocumented immigrants protection from deportation and made them eligible for work authorization subject to approval of an initial application and renewal every two years thereafter. The policy’s coverage was limited in scope to individuals under the age of thirty-one present in the country on or after June 12, 2012 who arrived in the United States before the age of sixteen. Thus, while the DACA program was available to only eligible individuals in the United States prior to June 2012, foreign-born persons who entered after this time are ineligible.

Imbued with the spirit of the American dream, and in reliance on the DACA program, enrollees have made substantial investments in themselves, their families, and their communities. Contrary to the government’s assertion in its brief to this Court (e.g., Pet. Br. 46), the DACA enrollees are not engaged in “ongoing illegal activity” or “ongoing violation of federal law.” To the contrary, under DACA and with the government’s permission, enrollees are legally engaged in educational, tax-paying, teaching, and military activities. See, e.g., Case No. 18-589 Pet. App. 115a (“[H]undreds of thousands of DACA recipients and those close to them planned their lives around the program.”).

Without any consideration for these substantial reliance interests engendered by DACA over the last several years, the Department abruptly terminated the program. In doing so, the government upended the lives of nearly 700,000 productive young adults, their families, and their communities. These DACA recipients, in an effort to play by the rules, came out of the shadows to enroll in the program.

The APA’s requirements are designed to protect against arbitrary and capricious reversals or terminations of policies and programs that induce serious reliance interests of the type found here. With the government’s encouragement, DACA enrollees invested in job-specific training programs, enrolled in universities, obtained jobs as educators, purchased homes, and enlisted in the military in service of our country. In turn, educational institutions, local communities, and employers invested in and have come to rely on the substantial benefits provided by DACA enrollees. Yet the administrative record is void of any mention, let alone consideration of these interests.

The government’s complete failure to consider such serious reliance interests before abruptly rescinding DACA is the hallmark of arbitrary and capricious conduct.


brief, DACA, Department of Homeland Security, DHS, Dreamers, Education, home ownership, Immigration, military service, Supreme Court