Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson


Judge rules DHS memo limiting DACA is unlawful; full protections for Dreamers to remain in place

OLYMPIA — Attorney General Bob Ferguson today announced that a federal judge struck down the Trump Administration’s latest attempt to gut the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The judge, in granting Ferguson’s motion for summary judgment, ruled that this latest DACA rollback violated federal law.

In this latest round of rollbacks, the Administration had attempted to to reject all new DACA applications, reduce the renewal period, and significantly restrict current DACA recipients, known as Dreamers, from traveling outside the U.S. This was the latest of numerous efforts by President Donald Trump to end DACA since taking office in 2016 — including one that was rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court in June.

“The highest court in the land already told the Trump Administration it cannot arbitrarily end DACA,” Ferguson said. “Despite this, the Department of Homeland Security — under the leadership of an unlawfully appointed acting secretary — pushed through yet another rollback of the program. This weekend’s ruling blocked this unlawful attempt from harming thousands of Washington Dreamers.”

On July 28, Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Chad Wolf wrote a memo stating he wanted to limit DACA while he decides whether to fully rescind the program. The memo came after a U.S. Supreme Court decision in mid-June that declared President Trump’s first attempt to rescind DACA unlawful. Specifically, Wolf’s memo ordered DHS to reject all new DACA applications, reduce the renewal period from two years to one and prohibit current DACA recipients from traveling outside the U.S. absent exceptional circumstances. The memo was the latest of numerous efforts by President Trump to end DACA since taking office in 2016.

In August, Ferguson filed an amended complaint with 16 other attorneys general that updated the states’ lawsuit against the Trump Administration’s previous attempts to end DACA — the lawsuit that prevailed before the Supreme Court in June. New York, Massachusetts, and Washington co-led the DACA lawsuit on behalf of the states.

The updated lawsuit asserts that Wolf’s memo violated the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, the U.S. Constitution, and the Administrative Procedure Act. When Wolf was appointed, the administration circumvented long-standing order-of-succession laws for federal agency officers. On Aug. 14, the Government Accountability Office released a finding that the federal government improperly appointed Wolf and two other appointees to their positions.

The judgment, issued on Saturday by Judge Nicholas Garaufis for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, ruled that Wolf cannot legally make this kind of decision because he was unlawfully appointed to his post as acting secretary.

Wing Luke Civil Rights Division Chief Colleen Melody and Assistant Attorney General Marsha Chien are handling the DACA case for Washington.

Ferguson created the Wing Luke Civil Rights Division in 2015 to protect the rights of all Washington residents by enforcing state and federal anti-discrimination laws. Ferguson named the unit for Wing Luke, who served as an assistant attorney general for the state of Washington in the late 1950s and early 1960s. He went on to become the first person of color elected to the Seattle City Council and the first Asian-American elected to public office in the Pacific Northwest.


The Office of the Attorney General is the chief legal office for the state of Washington with attorneys and staff in 27 divisions across the state providing legal services to roughly 200 state agencies, boards and commissions. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more.


Media Contact:

Brionna Aho, Communications Director, (360) 753-2727; Brionna.aho@atg.wa.gov

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