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Law Center immigration scholars Geoff Hoffman, Olivas weigh in on DACA decision in virtual press conference

June 23, 2020 - Two of the University of Houston Law Center’s leading scholars in immigration law, Clinical Professor Geoffrey Hoffman and Professor Emeritus Michael A. Olivas, provided analysis and responded to media inquiries about the U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in the case of Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of the University of California in a press conference last week held via Zoom.

Olivas said while the decision is a temporary reprieve for DACA recipients, their future status in the U.S. remains murky.

"This could be dragged out for a long time and as we come up on the election cycle," Olivas said. "It is a victory for the DREAMers, almost 800,000 of them, but at the end of the day all they get is extra time. At its very best, DACA did not provide a pathway for legalization or citizenship. They still do not have that pathway, and it would require Congressional action and presidential support."

Hoffman highlighted several principal issues - judicial review and reviewability and the Administrative Procedure Act.

"The Court in the plurality decision was very clear that the Department of Homeland Security acted arbitrarily and capriciously," Hoffman said. "What this means is that the Administrative Procedure Act was violated. The government was arguing it had unfettered discretion and that the Supreme Court had no ability to review the DACA decision.

"This is important because we need to look at this as a judicial review and reviewability decision. The Supreme Court issued a resounding rejection of the administration's position and saying the Supreme Court does have the ability to review decisions even if they are within the discretion of the administration.”

Olivas, one of the nation’s foremost higher education law authorities, recently retired as the William B. Bates Distinguished Chair in Law and director of the Institute for Higher Education Law & Governance at the Law Center. He is a recognized authority on the intersection of higher education and immigration law and has worked on related legislation in the interest of social justice. A prolific writer, Olivas' most recent book, "Perchance to Dream: A Legal and Political History of the DREAM Act and DACA" was released this month.

Hoffman is the director of the Law Center’s Immigration Clinic. He is a frequent commentator on immigration law and policy, specializes in immigration-related federal court litigation, deportation defense, asylum cases, and appeals before the Board of Immigration Appeals. He has represented numerous immigrants, including before the Executive Office for Immigration Review, Department of Homeland Security, and in the federal courts. He served as co-counsel before the Supreme Court in the precedent-setting immigration case, Carachuri-Rosendo v. Holder.

Click here to watch the complete press conference.


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