By Kevin Deutsch
A federal judge Saturday ruled that Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf ascended to his position unlawfully, thus invalidating his suspension of DACA — the Obama-era program that protected thousands of Bronx residents from deportation.
Wolf, whose selection by President Donald Trump ignored the position’s legally sanctioned order of succession, suspended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in July, shortly after taking the helm at DOH.
His move was in line with the Trump administration’s broader policy of hard-line immigration enforcement, and long-standing pattern of demonizing immigrants.
“DHS failed to follow the order of succession as it was lawfully designated,” U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis, a New York jurist, wrote in his decision. “Therefore, the actions taken by purported Acting Secretaries, who were not properly in their roles according to the lawful order of succession, were taken without legal authority.”
Garaufis’ ruling comes months after the nation’s bipartisan watchdog, the Government Accountability Office, deemed Wolf and his second-in-command, Ken Cuccinelli, ineligible to serve in their new positions under the Vacancies Reform Act.
The lawful order of succession that should have been followed after the 2019 resignation of DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was instead ignored by the administration, invalidating decisions like the DACA suspension, Garaufis ruled.
The decision could mean a new generation gets to apply for DACA status during the administration of President-elect Joe Biden.