Attorney General Becerra Continues Defense of Dreamers, Files Amended Complaint Pushing Back on Efforts to Undermine DACA

Monday, November 2, 2020
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today led a multistate coalition of attorneys general in filing an amended complaint challenging ongoing efforts by the Trump Administration to undermine the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Following the coalition’s successful defense of DACA, the case is once again before the trial court and now focused on the Trump Administration’s most recent attacks, including efforts to slash the duration of DACA protections in half and reject all new applications.

“These constant attacks against Dreamers are a reminder of President Trump’s true stripes — and they aren’t red, white, or blue,” said Attorney General Becerra. “Immigrants helped build this country, but the President ignores facts and history. Fortunately, he isn’t the gatekeeper for the American Dream. That’s beyond any President’s pay grade. The American Dream is worth fighting for. And California knows what it takes to defend DACA.” 

Despite the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision finding the Trump Administration’s attempt to rescind DACA to be unlawful, the federal government has continued to take steps to diminish protections granted to Dreamers who were brought to the United States as children. On July 28, 2020, the purported Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf issued a memo making a number of changes to DACA, including reducing the period of deferred action and work authorization from two years to one, rejecting all new applications, and effectively denying requests for advance parole that would permit DACA recipients to lawfully leave and re-enter the United States. Subsequently, on August 21, 2020, the purported Deputy Director for Policy for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Joseph Edlow issued a memo implementing the Wolf memo, instructing agency staff to reject DACA renewal requests received more than 5 months prior to the expiration of existing protections. As a result, many Dreamers will likely face lapses in their coverage and lose work opportunities, given that the Administration often takes well over 5 months — and sometimes up to a year — to process DACA renewal requests.

In the amended complaint, the attorneys general assert that these latest attacks on DACA are unlawful, in part, because:

  • Acting Secretary Wolf lacked the legal authority to issue the memo or appoint Acting Deputy Director Edlow because he was never validly appointed to his position;
  • The Trump Administration failed to consider critical reliance interests in promulgating the sweeping policy changes, including harms to public health, employers, universities and colleges, and state and local governments; and
  • The memo relied on fundamentally flawed logic to attempt to justify efforts to diminish DACA protections, including that the changes might put more pressure on Congress — a co-equal branch of government — to enact unrelated immigration reforms.

Ultimately, the unlawful changes directly harm Dreamers and threaten to rob them of opportunities to give back to their communities, including for the roughly 29,000 doctors, nurses, dentists, physician assistants, and other healthcare workers who have benefitted from DACA and are on the front lines confronting the ongoing pandemic every day. Reducing DACA recipients’ protections from two years to one also harms their employers — including state governments — who are faced with the possibility of losing a valued employee after only one year and increased administrative costs to confirm their employment eligibility every year instead of every two years. Further, blanket denials of new applications from young people who should have otherwise been eligible for DACA deprive states and communities of critical societal and economic contributions.

Overall, the program has allowed nearly 800,000 people who have come of age in the United States — including more than 220,000 Californians — to study and work without fear of deportation. Dreamers come from almost every country in the world, but many have never known any home other than the United States. They are among our newest college graduates, soldiers, nurses, teachers, first responders, and more. DACA recipients and their households are estimated to contribute nearly $9 billion in federal, state, and local taxes each year. According to the latest figures, there are currently nearly 650,000 Dreamers who arrived in this country as children and were granted DACA, more than a quarter of whom reside in California. 

In filing the amended complaint, Attorney General Becerra is joined by the attorneys general of Maine, Maryland, and Minnesota. Today’s amended complaint was filed in conjunction with other related DACA cases being litigated out of California, including the Regents of the University of California’s case. 

A copy of the amended complaint is available here. More on Attorney General Becerra’s efforts to protect DACA is available here.

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