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University Statement on U.S. Supreme Court's DACA Decision

Jun 19, 2020

On June 18, 2020, the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that the manner in which the Trump administration ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program violated the law.  The court's decision keeps DACA in place for now. 

This decision affirms University of the Pacific's longstanding commitment to protect and support all of our students, including those who are undocumented. Pacific will continue to provide a respectful, safe and inclusive environment and embrace the intellectual freedom, religious freedom and freedom of expression that are the hallmarks of higher learning. 

Maria Pallavicini
Interim President


FAQ on the DACA Supreme Court Case

What is DACA?

DACA is the acronym for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a program initiated in 2012 during the Obama Administration. It offers two important benefits to protect eligible immigrant youth who came to the United States when they were children from deportation. DACA gives individuals the ability to apply for employment authorization to work lawfully in the United States. This then provides eligibility for Social Security and Medicare. DACA is also an agreement that the federal government will not commence removal proceedings against individuals for renewable increments of two years. It is not a pathway to citizenship or permanent resident (green card) status.

How do individuals qualify for DACA?

In order to qualify for DACA an individual must:

  • Have entered the U.S. before age 16;
  • Be under 31 in 2012;
  • Have continuously resided in the U.S. since 2007;
  • Be a current student, have completed high school, or be an honorably discharged veteran;
  • Have passed a background test and have not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor or more than three misdemeanors of any kind;
  • Not pose a threat to national security or public safety.

Why was DACA created?

The Secretary of Homeland Security in 2012, Janet Napolitano, stated that individuals who met the above criteria warrant favorable treatment under the immigration laws. Secretary Napolitano also stated that these individuals lacked the intent to violate the law, were productive contributors to our society and only know this country as home.

When did the Trump Administration end DACA?

In September 2017, then Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, Elaine C. Duke, issued a memorandum terminating DACA based on the recommendation of then Attorney General Jeff Sessions that the program was illegal. In the memorandum, Secretary Duke stated that immigration would not accept any new applications, but individuals whose benefits were expiring within six months could submit renewal applications during a brief window.

What did the Supreme Court rule in their June 18, 2020 decision about DACA?

Chief Justice John Roberts found that Homeland Security did not follow proper procedures in trying to rescind DACA. The majority of the Supreme Court also found that the decision to terminate DACA was “arbitrary and capricious” or without sufficient reason or explanation. As Justice Sonia Sotomayor suggested during oral argument, if the administration wants to “destroy lives,” the law requires it to offer a fuller explanation of why.

If I want to apply for DACA or renew my DACA, what should I do?

DACA survives for now. Applications to renew DACA will continue to be accepted. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) should also reinitiate the program for accepting initial applications at some point in the future. However, this has not happened yet and individuals should wait for notice from USCIS before submitting an application and should consult with a qualified immigration attorney.

So is DACA safe for good now?

Not necessarily. The Trump administration could issue a new memorandum ending DACA and provide justification for why it is doing so. DACA recipients should still consult with immigration attorneys to see if they qualify for a pathway to citizenship.

Where can I call if I have questions about the DACA program?

Pacific’s McGeorge Immigration Law Clinic provides free legal services to immigrants in the Sacramento region. Our services include assistance with DACA renewal applications. Since the program was initiated in 2012, our students, staff and faculty have helped hundreds of individuals file initial and renewal applications for DACA. We are honored to be a part of the community and to work with DACA holders. Please call us at 916.340.6080 for a consultation.

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