A lawsuit initiated this Thursday by the Mexican American Fund for Legal Defense and Education (MALDEF) before the Federal Court of the District of Columbia questions the legality of the appointment of Chad wolf as Acting Secretary of Homeland Security and the validity of the restrictions that the official imposed on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA).
The MALDEF filed the complaint on behalf of the Santa Fe Dreamers Project, in New Mexico, and the Spanish Community Center of Joliet, Illinois, and names as defendants Wolf, and the acting undersecretary of Homeland Security, Ken cuccinelli.
Cuccinelli also serves as Acting Director of the Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), who runs the program created in 2012 by the then president Barack Obama and that it has protected hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants brought to the country when they were minors against deportation.
Wolf issued an ordinance on July 28 that limits renewals of DACA recipients’ permits and work authorizations to one year, and rejects new applications for relief. Since 2012, the program has granted protection against deportation and work permits valid for two years.
“The irresponsible management of the Government (of the president Donald) Trump has consequences under our Constitution and our laws “, affirmed the president of MALDEF, Thomas Sáenz.
In mid-August, the Comptroller General’s Office declared Wolf and Cuccinelli’s appointments invalid, so neither of them could fill their positions.
On March 1, a federal court in Maryland ruled that the government had illegally appointed Cuccinelli and that the official “lacked authority” to carry out his duties. The court’s ruling called two immigration directives issued by Cuccinelli that eliminated protections that federal law grants to those seeking asylum in the United States as “invalid and without legal support or effect.”
On August 14, the Trump Administration abandoned its appeal to this court’s ruling and nine days later announced Wolf’s nomination as head of Homeland Security, a nomination that is now being confirmed by the Senate.
“Ours is a country of immigrants and dreamers”said Martín Estrada, of the law firm supporting the lawsuit. “Young DACA recipients are at the heart of that dream, they have been to our schools, they have served in our military and they want nothing more than to contribute to the betterment of our communities.”
According to Ernest Herrera, an attorney for MALDEF, “the most recent government attack on DACA does not carry the weight of the law and should be dismissed immediately; Wolf has no legal authority to disrupt the lives of hundreds of thousands of dreamers who live, study and work in the country they know as theirs. “
The questioning of the authority of Wolf and Cuccinelli in their respective functions, and therefore of all their decisions, is based on the irregular path that led them to their positions and that, according to the plaintiffs, violates federal laws on government positions.
In April 2019, the then Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, resigned his position. In accordance with the laws on the administration of federal agencies, the position should have passed to the then acting undersecretary Claire Grady.
“Because the wrong official assumed the title of interim secretary, subsequent amendments in the order of succession made by such official were invalid and the officials who took their positions under such amendments were appointed based on an invalid order of succession,” according to the legal advisor of the Comptroller, Thomas Armstrong.
The appointment of the incumbents in the ministries and various government agencies, as well as that of the judges of the Supreme Court and the federal courts, corresponds to the president and must be confirmed by the Senate. Although Republicans have a majority in the Senate, Trump has avoided some confirmation paperwork by putting interim officials at the helm of ministries and agencies, of whom there are now at least 20.
The Comptroller’s Office referred the matter to the Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security to determine “the potential action” and urged him to “consider the actions taken by officials designated in an invalid manner.”
The Department of Homeland Security, created after the terrorist attacks of September 2001 and with the consolidation of at least 16 agencies, is in charge, among other dependencies, of Customs and Border Protection (CBP), USCIS and the Immigration and Customs Service. (ICE).
These agencies play a leading role in enforcing Trump’s immigration policies, which have included the rejection of tens of thousands of asylum seekers at the southern border, the detention of tens of thousands of immigrants pending their deportation proceedings. and the separation of thousands of immigrant minors from their families.