On August 17, 2018, Judge John D. Bates of the US District Court for the District of Columbia issued an order granting the government's motion for a stay of the court's order requiring the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to begin accepting applications for initial grants of DACA benefits and for advance parole under the DACA program.
On April 24, 2018, the district court had ordered DHS to fully reinstate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that had been slated for termination on March 5, 2018. The court stayed its order for 90 days to give DHS an opportunity to provide legal reasoning for the Trump administration's decision to rescind the DACA program. Two cases, NAACP v. Trump and Princeton University v. United States, 1:17-cv-02325-JDB, were consolidated for the court to consider dispositive motions pending in each. The order provided that should DHS fail to issue a new rescission order or provide legal justification for its earlier order, the agency would be required to accept new DACA applications as well as applications for advance parole from DACA beneficiaries. Earlier federal court rulings had ordered DHS to continue to accept DACA renewal applications.
On August 3, the court denied the government's motion to revise the April 24 order, holding that while a new memorandum issued by DHS within the 90-day period had offered several additional "policy" grounds for its decision to rescind, "it fail[ed] to elaborate meaningfully on the agency's primary rationale for its decision: the judgment that the [DACA] policy was unlawful and unconstitutional." The court held that the new memorandum had simply "repackaged" its previous legal arguments and that its one arguably bona fide new reason, i.e., the "post hoc" concern with "'project[ing] a message' to noncitizen children (and their parents) who would attempt to enter the United States unlawfully," was not previously articulated anywhere else in the litigation and so could not support that decision now.
DHS then moved the court to stay its April 24 order pending appeal. The government motion sought a stay of the order in its entirety or, in the alternative, at least insofar as the order requires DHS to begin accepting applications for initial grants of DACA benefits and for advance parole under the DACA program. Plaintiffs did not oppose the government's motion relative to a stay as to initial DACA applications.
On August 17, Judge Bates issued an order granting the government's motion for a stay pending appeal as to new DACA applications and applications for advance parole, but not as to renewal applications. The court reasoned that, while continuing the stay as to new applications "will temporarily deprive certain DACA-eligible individuals of relief to which the court has concluded they are legally entitled," the "confusion" surrounding the status of the DACA program would only be magnified if the court's order to accept new applications were to take effect now only to be reversed on appeal. Accordingly, the court opted for maintaining the status quo pending appeal. The order also brings the US District Court for the District of Columbia in line with the other courts that have ordered DHS to continue to accept applications for renewal of DACA benefits pending review by the higher courts.