UC Sues Trump Administration on Unlawful Repeal of DACA Program

(From Press Release) – The University of California today (Sept. 8) filed suit in federal court against the Trump administration for wrongly and unconstitutionally violating the rights of the University and its students by rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program on “nothing more than unreasoned executive whim.”

The lawsuit filed in the Northern District of California against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its acting secretary, Elaine Duke, is the first to be filed by a university seeking to stop the Trump administration’s recently announced decision to end the DACA program, which has allowed nearly 800,000 undocumented young people to legally live, work and study in the United States.

UC President Janet Napolitano, who was secretary of DHS from 2009 to 2013, created the DACA program in 2012, setting in place a rigorous application and security review process. Applicants for DACA were only approved if they were in or had graduated from high school or college, or were in the military, or an honorably discharged veteran. They cannot have been convicted of a felony or major misdemeanor or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.

“Neither I, nor the University of California, take the step of suing the federal government lightly, especially not the very agency that I led,” Napolitano said. “It is imperative, however, that we stand up for these vital members of the UC community. They represent the best of who we are — hard working, resilient and motivated high achievers. To arbitrarily and capriciously end the DACA program, which benefits our country as a whole, is not only unlawful, it is contrary to our national values and bad policy.”

The lawsuit asks the court to set aside the Trump administration’s rescission of DACA because it is “unconstitutional, unjust, and unlawful.”

“As a result of the Defendants’ actions, the Dreamers face expulsion from the only country that they call home, based on nothing more than unreasoned executive whim,” the complaint reads.

“The University faces the loss of vital members of its community, students and employees. It is hard to imagine a decision less reasoned, more damaging, or undertaken with less care. … Defendants’ capricious rescission of the DACA program violates both the procedural and substantive requirements of the APA (Administrative Procedure Act), as well as the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.”

UC has approximately 4,000 undocumented students, a substantial number of whom have DACA, as well as teachers, researchers and health care providers who are DACA recipients.

The lawsuit was filed with the pro bono support of the law firm Covington & Burling, LLP.

As today’s legal action demonstrates, UC continues to take a leadership role in protecting its DACA and other undocumented students. The university is committed to using all available resources to support the thousands of Dreamers who are currently enrolled at UC campuses, as well as other undocumented students. Those resources and services include:

  • Continuing to allow California residents who are Dreamers to pay in-state tuition;
  • Maintaining the DREAM loan program for financial aid;
  • Offering legal services to our undocumented students;
  • Supporting campus-based student service centers; and
  • Directing campus police not to contact, detain, question or arrest individuals based on suspected undocumented status, or to enter agreements to undertake joint efforts to make arrests for federal immigration law violations.

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  1. Tia Will

    I have been in disagreement with a number of positions of Ms. Napolitano. I also inherently dislike the adversarial nature of our legal system. However, if an action is unjust, it should be fought through whatever legal means are available. In this case I find myself strongly supportive of her action to sue the government to stop the suspension of DACA, a program which benefits individuals who themselves are responsible for breaking no laws and who are making positive contributions to our communities and country as a whole.

  2. Ron

    Just wondering / honest questions:

    Since DACA is a relatively recent Obama-era law, what was occurring prior to that time?  Were there mass deportations of “dreamers”? What changed, exactly, under DACA (in terms of actual impacts)?

    Also, will “dreamers” now have to pay non-resident tuition at UC? (Assuming they’re not deported?)

    This does sound like a real mess.

  3. Jerry Waszczuk

    Way to go Janet . Californians are proud of you . You should ask Governor Brown to declare amnesty  for all undocumented in California and sue the President Trumps administration for lack of transparency and compassion if the amnesty would be  rejected 
      Way to go Janet . Californians are proud of you . You should ask Governor Brown to declare amnesty  for all undocumented in California and sue the President Trump’s administration for lack of transparency and compassion if  the  amnesty would be rejected by the  President Trump .

  4. Tia Will

    Hi Ron,

    I am certainly no expert in this area but my belief is that prior to DACA, these young people just lived in “the shadows” in the same way that many of their parents and other undocumented individuals do. This means that large areas of endeavor would automatically be unavailable to them limiting their ability to learn, advance and contribute to the society. My evidence is limited but telling. I was on the ICU team in Fresno treating a teen for heat exposure ( she died ). Before that happened I had talked with her sisters who explained that when they worked in the fields, if “la migra” came, they ran. I had seem this years previously when I lived in a house that backed onto strawberry fields in Anaheim. I could see a field full of workers when a shout could be heard and the field would empty as the feds rolled up.

    DACA was, in my opinion never intended to be “the law”, it was intended to provide young people with time  to come out of the shadows, to allow them to pursue the same kind of  educational & employment opportunities that every other young person who considers the US to be their home can pursue.



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