President Trump’s decision to end the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program has been criticized, by Democrats and Republicans alike, as “cruel,” “inhumane” and “unconscionable.” It is also quite likely illegal. The decision is being implemented in a way that appears to violate the Administrative Procedure Act, and the courts might well block the Trump administration’s action on those grounds.
The Administrative Procedure Act, sometimes called the “Magna Carta of administrative law,” is a 1946 statute that governs hundreds of federal agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security. It requires that agencies go through a process known as “notice and comment” before issuing, amending or repealing “substantive rules.” As part of that process, the agency must publish proposed actions in the Federal Register and then give the public at least 30 days to submit feedback. When it finalizes its proposal, the agency must respond to issues raised by the public comments and must explain why it settled upon the course of action that it chose. The explanation must show why the agency’s action is reasonable and not “arbitrary” or “capricious.”
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