Judge Garaufis: Acting DHS Head Unlawfully Appointed, Invalidates DACA Suspension

November 17, 2020

NEW YORK – Greek-American federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis ruled on November 14 that Chad Wolf, the head of Homeland Security “has not been acting lawfully and that, as such, his suspension of protections for a class of migrants brought to the United States illegally as children is invalid,” NBC News reported.

“The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that the Trump administration wrongly tried to shut down protections under the Obama-era legislation known as DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals,” NBC News reported, adding that “on July 28, Wolf nonetheless suspended DACA pending review.”

Homeland Security “did not immediately respond to a request for comment,” NBC reported, noting that “Judge Garaufis said court conferences would be held to work out details of his ruling.”

He concluded, "Wolf was not lawfully serving as Acting Secretary of Homeland Security under the HSA [Homeland Security Act] when he issued the Wolf Memorandum" that suspended DACA, NBC News reported.

Karen Tumlin, a lawyer in the case and director of the Los Angeles-based Justice Action Center, said the ruling means that "the effort in the Wolf memo to gut the DACA program is overturned," NBC News reported, adding that “she said the ruling applies to more than a million people, including more recent applicants and those seeking two-year renewals for protection under DACA.”

"This is really a hopeful day for a lot of young people across the country," Tumlin said, NBC News reported.

“Although President Donald Trump formally nominated Wolf for the job in summer, Wolf has yet to get a full vote in the Senate, keeping his role as ‘acting,’” NBC News reported, adding that “Garaufis cited the Government Accountability Office, which wrote in a report to Congress in August that Wolf was the beneficiary of an ‘invalid order of succession.’”

“The judge described an illegitimate shuffling of leadership chairs at the Department of Homeland Security, the agency responsible for immigration enforcement, for the predicament of Wolf's leadership and that of his predecessor, Kevin McAleenan,” NBC News reported.

Garaufis wrote in the ruling, NBC News reported, "Based on the plain text of the operative order of succession neither Mr. McAleenan nor, in turn, Mr. Wolf, possessed statutory authority to serve as Acting Secretary. Therefore the Wolf Memorandum was not an exercise of legal authority."

“The ruling is part of an ongoing case with DACA recipient Martín Jonathan Batalla Vidal serving as the lead plaintiff in a six-plaintiff case against Wolf and the Department of Homeland Security,” NBC News reported, adding that “the suit initially challenged the state of Texas' attempt to thwart DACA.”

On November 14, the National Immigration Law Center posted about the ruling on Twitter, "VICTORY!" NBC News reported.


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