UC files brief to Supreme Court challenging Trump’s 2017 DACA reversal

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The UC system filed a brief to the Supreme Court, challenging the Trump administration’s 2017 decision to rescind Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.

The brief — filed Friday — followed the UC system’s decision to sue the government after the Trump administration announced its decision to end DACA through a legal memorandum authored by then-Acting U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, Elaine Duke. The brief accuses the decision to rescind DACA of being legally “arbitrary and capricious” and argues it is “judicially reviewable.” UC Berkeley and the UC system are extending support and resources to undocumented students while the federal litigation continues.

“The Trump administration acted illegally by ending the DACA program without offering any valid justification for doing so,” said UC President Janet Napolitano in a statement. “Since this lawsuit began, the University of California has sought to provide a safe and supportive environment for our DACA students — and we will continue to do so.”

Napolitano previously served as the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security where she authorized DACA in 2012. She echoed the brief’s criticism of the government’s memorandum and administrative record submissions in her short statement.

The brief alleges that the administrative record — consisting of 14 public documents to provide background for the court — is incomplete, and therefore argues that the court should not reach any final decision “at a minimum.”

The brief also accuses the current Department of Homeland Security of failing to demonstrate “adequate consideration” of DACA recipients and those who would be affected by the 2017 memorandum, therefore making it “arbitrary.”

The memorandum, however, does specify that it recognized the “complexities associated with winding down the program” and made plans to provide a limited window to field requests from some DACA applicants who submitted an application before Sept. 5, 2017. DACA applicants who applied after that date have been rejected.

UC Berkeley’s Undocumented Student Program, or USP, director Liliana Iglesias told The Daily Californian earlier this year that since the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services stopped accepting applicants, campus has seen more DACA recipients graduating and less recipients coming in.

For undocumented UC Berkeley students, DACA has authorized their ability to receive financial aid through Director’s Work Study. Separately, USP also offers resources to DACA recipients and other undocumented students including academic and mental health support as well as computers, books and study space.

About 4,000 students across the UC system are undocumented, a “significant number” of whom are DACA recipients, according to UC Office of the President spokesperson Stett Holbrook.

“UC is committed to providing resources and creating a supportive environment at each campus for undocumented students and other undocumented members of the UC community,” Holbrook said in an email.

Rachel Barber is the lead student life reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @rachelbarber_.