Mónica Ramírez Almadani, Viridiana Chabolla '20 and Stephen Lee on the Supreme Court DACA decision

Prof. Stephen Lee interviews Prof. Mónica Ramírez Almadani and Viridiana Chabolla '20 on their role in protecting DACA and the Supreme Court's recent decision blocking the Trump Administration from ending the program.

Read Transcript

UCI Law Talks · Mónica Ramírez Almadani, Viridiana Chabolla '20 and Stephen Lee on the Supreme Court DACA decision


  • Stephen Lee

    Professor of Law
    Associate Dean for Faculty Research and Development

    Expertise: Administrative Law, Immigration Law
  • Mónica Ramírez Almadani

    Visiting Assistant Clinical Professor of Law

    Expertise: Immigrant Rights, Civil Rights, Criminal Law
  • Viridiana Chabolla Mendoza '20

    UCI Law alum and plaintiff in Garcia v. Trump DACA case

Podcast Transcript

[Narrator]: Welcome to UCI Law Talks from the University of California, Irvine School of Law. Join us on Twitter @UCILaw.

[Stephen Lee]: Welcome to UCI Law Podcast. I'm your host, Stephen Lee. I'm a professor and associate dean at the law school, and I write and teach in the area of immigration law. This week, we will be discussing Department of Homeland security v. Regents of the University of California, or commonly known as the DACA rescission case. I had a really good conversation with two people. One is Monica Almadani, who was a part of the litigation team in one of the lawsuits challenging the rescission. She's now a visiting clinical professor here at the law school. The other persons I chatted with was Viridiana Chabolla who was one of the named plaintiffs in the case.

She was a UCI student at the time and has recently graduated from the law school. Now, we'll get to the conversation in a moment, but I just wanted to set the table so that anyone who hasn't been following the case can keep up with the conversation. As you might know or recall, in June 2012, President Obama announced that the Department of Homeland Security or DHS was going to create the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, commonly known as DACA. This program would give unauthorized migrants, who came to the United States as children, a temporary reprieve against deportation. These reprieves were good for and renewable after two years, and it also gave them some important benefits like work authorization.

Of course, President Trump was elected in 2016 and he campaigned on the promise to take a harsher approach to immigration law. In September 2017, the acting secretary of DHS, Elaine Duke, issued a memo announcing the DHS was going to rescind the DACA program. Now, their primary reason for doing so was the belief that DACA was unlawful. Several lawsuits were filed almost immediately to challenge this rescission. There are some twists and turns in this case, and especially in the government's response. Over time, in addition to their belief that DACA was unlawful, the government also explained, after the fact that I believe that the rescission was defenseful, not only because it was unlawful, but again, because it was simply bad policy.

Okay. So as the case made its way up through the courts, the primary question was whether the government had offered a good enough reason for rescinding the program. The case was eventually argued before the Supreme Court on November 12, 2019, and on June 18, 2020, the court issued its decision. In a surprising 5-4 opinion written by the Chief Justice, John Roberts, the court held that the rescission was, "Arbitrary and capricious in violation of the administrative procedure act." Now, the court didn't say that they could never rescind DACA, rather it said that if the administration was going to do this, it had to offer up better reasons than it did. Moreover, eight of the nine justices also agree that the plaintiffs in the case has not pled enough facts to support a claim that the rescission was motivated by racial animus.

Only Justice Sotomayor would have allowed the plaintiffs proceed in the case on that claim. God bless Justice Sotomayor. I have to say I was genuinely surprised by this decision. When I reviewed the transcript of the oral argument, I really didn't see how the plaintiffs were going to secure five votes to save DACA, but they did it. Okay. There's more I could say, but that should be enough even for casual or part-time students of the law to keep up with the conversation. Here's the conversation I had with Professor Almadani and Viridiana Chabolla. Thanks for listening.

Hello. Hello. Thank you for taking the time to join me today. Let's talk about the DACA rescission case. I just want to ask, how excited were you guys when you guys read the opinion? Monica, let's start with you.

[Monica Ramirez Almadani]: Sure. I was thrilled, obviously. I think many of us were, or most of us were surprised by the decision. I think folks were expecting a very negative decision, and so it was incredibly exciting to get such great news that morning, especially given how many lives were hanging in the balance, and for this decision to come down during such a difficult time generally, with the pandemic and everything that's going on nationally, it was just such a great relief for everyone, I think, who's been involved and especially, obviously for the DACA recipients and their families and communities in particular.

[SL]: Yeah, Viri, what about you?

[Viridiana Chabolla]: I was very excited. I was still asleep when Prof. Rosenbaum called me at 7:30 in the morning. I didn't pick up because I thought he's calling me to say, I'm sorry, or explain the next steps for a bad decision. I didn't answer, then I Googled quickly, DACA decision, and saw that it was positive and called him back and I think just started processing what this meant. Yeah, I think I was expecting the worst. It was definitely a big relief.

[SL]:  Yeah. I'm not a Supreme Court watchdog at all, although I know a lot of my colleagues are, but I just knew that this particular term, around June, I would just begin checking the website. Actually, I don't even want to say, I'll start checking Twitter on Mondays and Thursdays. I remember getting up at 6:30 and just seeing DACA trending. I just immediately jumped out of bed and had to start going through the opinion. It was sort of what you said, Monica. It was dark the last couple of months, and then just to have this one little bit of light was such a pleasant surprise. You guys, I think having a chance to read the opinion or at least go through it, Viridiana, and I know you're doing things like studying for the bar, but if you had a chance to read it, what surprised you the most about that opinion?

[VC]: I will say that I instinctively tried to look for some sort of mention around the equal protection clause claims, because I thought those were an acknowledgement of the reason and the hostility that this administration seems to have for immigrants. I was instantly drawn, of course, to Sotomayor's descent, which just had me so happy that somebody saw through a lot of what's being done at the executive level. It was interesting to see, because I think, being in law school and having some understanding of the language in it made me realize the good and the bad of the decision. The parts where I feel I fail to see DACA recipients as people who were being discriminated against, as a group of people beyond an administrative process flaw or something.

[SL]: I mean, I’ve got to say it's pretty clear that Justice Sotomayor is on an island by herself when it comes to the equal protection. I was dumbfounded by that. I didn't quite understand why the rest of the liberal wing didn't join the concurrence. It made me think, I wonder if there is just some sort of fear that maybe they would lose that kind of fragile five justice coalition, but it was just so odd. Even from the language, the fact that the majority opinion referred to DACA recipient as aliens. By contrast, Justice Sotomayor, for a number of years now, has been really deliberate about using the term undocumented immigrant. Then second, we're just at the beginning stages of litigation. All she said is that there's enough that's been alleged to assert a plausible claim of discrimination because the year is 2020, and President Trump is here overseeing the DHS.

It just felt like Justice Sotomayor is the only one who's walking through this world with us. It just felt so bizarre to read that one opinion. Monica, what about you? What surprised you the most?

[MA]: I agree with that. I was very surprised about how the court handled the equal protection claim, and was really excited to read Justice Sotomayor's concurrence, because as Viri said, she's the only one, and as you said, Stephen, who seems to be living in our reality and understands what this administration has done and what the president himself has said about Latinos, in particular, about immigrants as well. That was very disheartening to see that the court did not even give the respondents in the case the opportunity to really explore that claim to seek discovery in the case to develop the claim on remand.

The other thing that surprised me was the court's legal reasoning, and specifically that it didn't rule on the legality of DACA itself. I think that everyone who's been involved in the case and following closely has always had to grapple with this question of whether the DACA program itself, when it was initiated, was initiated lawfully or not, and then whether the rescission itself, obviously, was legal or not. I think it was surprising to a lot of the lawyers involved in the case, and that the court did not directly address the ultimate legality of the Deferred Action program. I think it's good in many ways that it didn't do that. It's positive that it issued a more narrowed decision that leads that question, I think, to another day. Obviously the dissent grappled with it, but that surprised me.

[SL]: Okay. I actually do want to talk about what the precise holding of the case looked like. I think this is important for the public to understand, but I'm going to bracket this for a second because I'm realizing that the public may not be aware of the precise relating that each of you has to this litigation. I just feel really lucky to be talking to both of you guys, because you guys have had your own sort of imprint on this litigation. Maybe, if you could just, Viri, we could start with you. Maybe you could just say a little bit about what your personal relationship to this case is. I think it would really help our listeners understand your perspective.

[VC]: Yeah, so I was one of the plaintiffs in Garcia V. Trump. Just graduated law school so I knew Prof. Rosenbaum, Mark Rosenbaum, one of the attorneys on the case through my previous work before law school. He knew that I was a DACA recipient and that I was struggling, at the very beginning of law school, with the recession and the fact that I didn't know whether I would be able to put my J.D. into practice in a few years. So he asked me to join the case. I'm very glad I did. I'm very happy with the process, even though there has been a lot of moments of pain and a lot of moments of defeat, but very happy to be part of it.

[SL]: I'm also just going to say that I'm really happy that you persisted as well, because I've had the good fortune of having had you in class as a student, and also as my RA for the last year. For all those reasons, I'm personally excited that you were able to navigate this litigation successfully. Monica, how about you? What is your relationship to the litigation?

[MA]: Sure. Back in 2017 when Trump rescinded DACA and the litigation, the various cases challenging that decision began, I was a special counsel at Covington & Burling, the law firm that represented the UC, the University of California, in their case. I was part of the senior litigation team, litigating what was at the time, it was the first case filed against the Trump administration to challenge the rescission decision. In particular, I presented a tutorial along with Luis Cortes, who's a DACA recipient and an attorney, an immigration law tutorial for Judge Alsup in the Northern District of California regarding the history of Deferred Action, and tried to explain how the DACA program fit into this larger Deferred Action scheme, explaining how this works in the broader context of immigration law. That was my direct involvement in the case.

[SL]: At the start of litigation, did you have a sense of how things might turn out? In other words, did you anticipate that ultimately the plaintiffs would win before the Supreme Court?

[MA]: I've always been a very optimistic litigator. I think many of my friends and colleagues think I'm a little bit naive about how I approach litigation, but I'm always very optimistic and I've spent most of my career working in immigrants’ rights. I feel like if you're on the side of justice, then somehow you're going to find a way to convince the decision makers that they need to do the right and humane thing. Having said that, of course from the very beginning, we knew this was an incredibly difficult case. It was difficult to even identify the claims we would raise. It took considerable amount of time to really think through the best legal strategy, and it evolved over time as it usually does when you're litigating. I think that's why I found that the decision, the Supreme Court's decision, a little bit surprising the way in which the court address the legality of DACA itself, because of the various ways in which we had interpreted that original decision from the Obama administration.

[SL]: Okay. Let's talk about that. Let's get to the holding of the case. As we talked about earlier, the majority opinion did not address the legality of DACA, and that's in part because of the posture of the case. It wasn't a challenge to DACA itself although there seems to be litigation going on right now with the States trying to sue, challenge DACA. Rather, the administration tried to rescind DACA various plaintiffs, like Viri and others tried to challenge the rescission, and then the administration responded by saying well, look, we have to rescind it because it's illegal. The legality of DACA came into the litigation through the back door. It wasn't the legality of DACA, but it was the executive's belief of the legality of DACA.

I guess, I'm just wondering, did you guys debate whether, to what extent, you wanted to put the legality of the program front and center? In other words, on the one hand, it would be great to have a final decision on the legality of this given the stakes of the case. On the other hand, there's no real guarantee of anything with this particular court answering in that type of question.

[MA]:  Yeah, that's a good question. I just want to recognize that obviously there were many different lawsuits and different cases challenging the rescission decision, and so I was involved in only one. For example, the Garcia case, Viri's case and our case, along with others, were consolidated before the Northern District, but there were cases in New York, in DC, in Maryland, etc. So in terms my involvement, I would say that, and I think, I guess I could say this, or I think I'll speak for, I think, all the respondents, but it never ... I don't think the strategy was ever to put forth the legality of DACA or to stand on that, and say, okay, this program is legal and that's why the rescission is unlawful.

But I think the expectation was always that the government would argue that the program was unlawful. That was just something we had to prepare for and have arguments explaining why that the memo itself, the 2012 memo and the program it created was a lawful exercise of prosecutorial discretion. At least that's the way we approached it.

[SL]: Yeah, what's interesting about that too, is if you look at, at least during the Obama administration, the kind of legality of that program was almost self-evident to Obama officials. In my own sort of research, that seemed to be true with the political officials, but also even in public statements, I think that, then secretary Napolitano, once she had left DHS, she was giving a speech and she talked about how, from their vantage point, there's such a long line of cases that made non-enforcement subject executive discretion and not really subject to judicial review, if any. It was almost like they just didn't give it too much thought to it. I always wondered why they didn't go and take a more deliberate approach, like using notes in comment to try and give it more information.

It's more of like a legal grounding, but I don't know, it just seemed like it was so obvious, from their perspective, that they just didn't even want to pursue it. It was interesting to see this case evolve over the last couple of years. I never really thought that this kind of issue would have made it to the Supreme Court and then turn out the way it did. Viri, I want to talk to you a little bit about these sort of two parts of Roberts's holding. One was equal protection, there's not enough pled here to assert a plausible claim of racial animus. Then the other one is sort of arbitrary capricious that is the Trump administration, or the DHS rather, did not thoroughly provide an adequate reason for resending this.

Just from your perspective, it's a victory, but how does that kind of victory translate to you? In other words, how does this legal outcome map onto your own sort of journey? Does it feel like a satisfactory one? Do you feel a little bit deflated? From your vantage point, could you share a little bit about that?

[VC]: It does feel a little bit deflating. It feels like so much of it was ... Actually, I remember telling a friend that morning that I was really grateful for the administration's ineptitude, that morning and their inability to do things right. Because it does seem like so much of it was focused on a procedural issue, on the fact that they didn't do things the right way. They didn't rescind it the right way. I think I'm the opposite of Monica in the way that I'm sort of a pessimistic when it comes to litigation. I think so much because I want to prepare myself for the worst, but this opinion, in particular, Roberts, it made me think that future claims, future arguments that immigrants or Latinos may be discriminated against and immigration in particular would be excused.

I this there's a line somewhere in the opinion in Roberts, where he says that if this equal protection claim were to go forward here, then it would be used in the future for other immigration cases or other immigration decisions by the executives. I think that should be possible. I think that, if an administration is doing something discriminatory, even in an area where they seem to have so much control like immigration, then we should be able to call it out in the judicial system. It felt like he was foreclosing that a little bit, for Latinos and immigration in particular, which felt really disheartening.

[SL]: That's a really important point, because when I read the opinion, I agree with your sense that this was not so much about DACA as it was about the Trump administration. In other words, Roberts really ... you almost get the sense that he was indifferent to DACA, or maybe he could get himself worked up to feel some degree of sympathy for DACA recipients. What monster would not feel that kind of sympathy? Reading it, you just felt like the Trump administration, either is motivated by racial animus, or they're just really bad at administering laws. They're just really bad at, you know, going through proper procedures, following rules. That's what arbitrary capricious is ultimately about. It's about ensuring that people do their jobs, to a certain degree, in minimal competence.

It's almost like, what was it? The census case? Where it's like, you can do this horrible, awful thing, but just, you got to be pre-textual that, you have to submerge it under a veneer of legitimate governance. That's the sense I got with this. I guess it leads to the next question. It's like, so what now? We had this kind of victory, we have the Trump administration getting rejected in its attempt to rescind DACA. What happens next? Do we just expect the rescission to go forward again except under a different label? Monica, what do you think?

[MA]: I think we really don't know what's going to happen next. It's true that the Supreme Court's decision is very narrow, and it's very focused on procedure and leaves open the door for the administration to attempt to rescind the program again. That's very unfortunate. They could try to basically follow the court's instructions and take into consideration the various factors that they omitted or neglected to consider before. For example, considering the reliance interests, and what that means is basically looking at how DACA recipients, their families or communities have relied on this program for the past eight years, what impact it would have on them, on the economy, on our society, in general, to rescind the program. That would take time for them to do properly. The other thing to consider is, whether there is an alternative to completely rescinding the program, the court focused a lot on this question of forbearance.

Could you allow folks to keep, essentially the deferred action, not be removed, but not qualify for any benefits? They could decide, look, let's just go through this process, maybe in a superficial way, but at least, go through the analysis and then issue a new memo in a couple of months. I don't know if they want to go through that process. I think that's going to be a political calculation that they need to make. Public opinion supports the DACA program. We have an election obviously this year. I think while the opinion is not everything that we wanted, it's limited in a lot of ways. I think that it's still a victory and it still makes it very difficult for Trump to just go ahead and rescind the program in a swift manner, in the way in which I think he and his administration would like to do.

I think there are still some real limitations. Whatever they do, I think we're also going to end up in court again, hopefully, in favorable courts where we could get another preliminary injunction. There's a whole process. I'm not sure if they want to go through that, at least not before, or at least before the election. Then after that, obviously that's ... we don't know what's going to happen in the future, but I think it's unfortunate that they can try to resend it again. But again, I think there are many reasons why they may not, but we will see.

[SL]: Yeah, I think I agree with that assessment. Justice Kavanaugh, on his dissent, suggest that, well, the majority refuse to consider the second of the two memos. The first memo that justified the rescission was the one issued by, then acting secretary, Elaine Duke. Then, there were some shortcomings there. Some gaps, and then those gaps were filled by a second memo by then secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. But the majority has refused to consider the second memo for this obscure administrative law, reason ... something I care about for listeners is just, because it seems like a classic post hoc rationalization. You can't really trust someone after the fact justifying these actions nine months later when things have shifted. Justice Kavanaugh seems to think that all the administration needs to do is just rescind the rescission order, and then issue a new one, and just cut and paste the language from the Nielsen memo.

I’ve got to say, as an administrative action, that seems right? Maybe they'd have to do a little bit more to address this opinion, but the larger point is what you said, is that, politically, I'm not sure that's something that the administration really wants to engage in. But to me, the larger takeaway is that kind of amazing durability of a decision of this program that began eight years ago. Again, aside from the sort of, where were you when this opinion came down? This is also like, well, where were you when the program was announced? I remember exactly where I was, at a conference in Chicago that had to do with immigration law, and everyone just sort of stopped to kind of review this thing. It seemed so interesting and novel, but it also seemed, again, flimsy in the sense that, of course what the executive giveth, they can take away.

Yet, here we are, eight years later, having gone to the Supreme Court, knocked on the Supreme Court's door with the DACA litigation, and then now here we are with this, and the program is still standing. That, for me, just as a scholar, that's perhaps one of the most interesting things, something whose legality is up in the air and still hasn't really been answered by the court, and something that's still relevant and changing lives, and maybe won't ever be ... It won't be shifted at least for the next few months. Anyway, if there's anything that's remarkable for me, it's sort of that as a legal scholar.

Okay, I know we're getting short on time. I just want to maybe zoom out a little bit and talk a little bit about what this case tells us about the Trump administration's approach to law enforcement regulation generally. Is there any kind of pattern that we can discern from their approach to this? Monica, maybe we'll start with you, and then Viri, you can weigh in after that.

[MA]: I think with this decision ... are you asking about the rescission decision or the Supreme Court decisions? I'm sorry.

[SL]:  Yeah. The Trump administration's attempt to rescind DACA, and just sort of like, if we can extrapolate a larger set of patterns from this administration when it comes to immigration. I think I know what you're going to say or at least I think I do, but…  

[MA]: Yeah. No, I think ... I think we all know this is a very sloppy administration that likes to cut corners, and Justice Roberts recognized that in his decision, that you know, they have a very aggressive policy towards immigrants, as we've seen, as we know from what they've done at the border, how they've separated families. This is, I should say inhumane, not just aggressive. So, they will do what they want to do without necessarily following the law. I think that's what we've seen in the past several years, and maybe that's, I don't know if that's considered an extreme position, but I feel like this decision shows that they re-textually terminated the program.

I think that there are a very valid people protection issues here. There is evidence of discriminatory intent and animus towards particular communities, but also just the process, they're sloppy, and they are very mission and oriented, and they won't always follow the rules. I think Justice Roberts joined the more liberal wing of the court in this decision. Because of that, I think he finds that offensive that they are not willing to do what is required under the law to support their policy position.

[SL]: Just one quick point about that. So I agree with everything you said, and perhaps the key word for me when you were talking was the word they, because this is a great reminder that the president, or the executive rather, is a they, not an it. You do of course have the president, but of course, you do have other people involved like Stephen Miller, like Jeff Sessions, who's no longer there, like Ivanka Trump, and everyone has their own agenda and everyone prioritizes immigration differently. When you have a president who maybe hasn't quite decided how he feels about immigration enforcement, aside from wanting to satisfy his base, you get this kind of policymaking. You get this hodgepodge thing patchwork. Two steps forward, one step back, one step forward, two steps back.  Kids end up in cages, public statements in defense of DACA.

The whole thing is kind of a mishmash. Of course cruelty runs through it, but again, it's always hard to pinpoint whether they're cruelties, because they just don't care about immigrants and people of color, or because they're incompetent, from the perspective of people who are targeted and maybe it doesn't even matter because all of this is a part of the same sort of project that is really dehumanizing. But yeah, I really loved that because I just think that there's so many people involved in this project that makes it even hard.

[MA]: Stephen, I worked at the justice department during the Obama administration and saw firsthand how time consuming and involved it is to come to any sort of policy legal decision. It always takes a ton of inter-agency meetings and discussions. There are interactions with the White House regularly, and there's always a process, and there are experts within these agencies that know what that process is typically. You follow that process before reaching any type of consequential decision like this. It's clear from what happened here in DACA that that's not what they did. They decided they wanted to end this program and then they did what Roberts said, they cut corners, and that's why their decision was invalidated.

[SL]: Yeah. Now I'm just ranting. This is administration that took three tries to write a travel ban. If you're going to be racist and xenophobic, just get it right the first time. Why the three different ones? But of course, by the time the third travel ban came out, you had a couple of non-Muslim countries worked in there, like North Korea and Venezuela. It's like, oh, see, it's not racial animus at all. But why three times? Just to start with that, if that's your agenda. Anyway, sorry, Viri, what about you? Again, I know you're sort of at the start of your legal career, but you've read lots of cases. You've been studying this administration. What can you extrapolate from the DACA rescission policy about this administration?

[VC]: I have a really hard time with, from a logical perspective, understanding why, if the system can work to their advantage, why they don't just do that. I think so much of it is to appease of their base, which is a really weird thing for me sometimes that, they could appease their base by I'm doing it right the first time, but I think that would take time and that wouldn't seem as aggressive or as radical or as innovative. It would take time, it would take years, it would take months. I think so much of the way they do things is to make sure that they're able to go to rallies. Well, Trump, but others as well, and say, look, we just did it because we wanted to, even though that might backfire on them.

While I'm grateful that at the end those decisions are reviewed and they have to do it over, I think it also makes people ... it fosters a lot of hate and if fosters a lot of quick hate. That's the negative of I think one of the many negatives of their lack of following the law. But I do think it makes people think that they can just do things against immigrants, against people of color in their daily lives without following the law, without following even just like etiquette. I think I stay away from comments around DACA news, but the ones that I've seen, they're really personal, they're really hateful as I expect them to be, but I feel like they're even more amped up by this administration and the way they do things.

[SL]: Yeah. Thanks for that. I'm looking at the time. I think we have time for just one last question. I just wanted to give you guys a chance to just offer any kind of concluding thoughts you have in terms of what this Supreme Court decision means to you and how you hope we can use this to expand and build the array of rights and interests that are tied up in the lives of immigrants. Monica, would you like to start us off?

[MA]: Sure. I think for me, I think a lot about resistance and just continuing the fight, because while the Supreme Court ruled favorably here, again, it was a very narrow decision. The battle to maintain the DACA program and ultimately to get Congress to pass some permanent legislation that protects, not just Dreamers, but their families, their parents, their siblings, we've got to continue to fight for that larger, more permanent solution. The Supreme Court yesterday issued a terrible decision on asylum.

[SL]: It was terrible.

[MA]: It's not like the Supreme Court is friendly to immigrants. I think that this was a very unique case with very unique facts, obviously. Again, a very sloppy administration, I think. Again, very happy for the results, but the struggle continues, the fight continues. I think lawyers, we play a very critical role, but we can help deter certain thing, limit certain things, push for certain things, but ultimately, this is about fighting on a broader level, and it's really about ... the Dreamers have been fighting for this for much longer than the DACA program has been around. Just learning from them being inspired by them to continue this fight and to broaden it so that more people have the opportunity to live here free of the fear of deportation.

[SL]: Viri, how about you?

[VC]: When the decision came down, one of the first ... after the panic, I just kept thinking of every DACA recipient I've met and being involved in the case, but also being involved in immigration in general. I've met a lot of them. I have family members, I have best friends who are DACA recipients, but I had recently met someone whose work authorization expired and had just turned in her application. Reading this decision really brought it home that she would be able to renew and would be safe for two more years. I think it's really important to think about those personal stories. Right now, USCIS is about ... says they're broke and they're fallowing furloughing a bunch of employees. Those have real consequences. It means more delays for people, longer wait times for naturalizations, or feeling safe in this country.

I think, while it was a joyous moment, it is also ... I'm really grateful that it allows so many of us to keep fighting safely, that it allows so many of us to focus our energies, not on ourselves, but on our parents and our family members, our friends who are in a much more precarious situation than we are.

[SL]: Yeah. On that last point, that's another thing. When I feel cynical, I feel like, why wouldn't the administration want DACA to proceed? It's a moneymaker for them. USCIS is staying afloat on account of the exorbitant fee that DACA applicants have to submit along with their application. Maybe people are getting furloughed right now, but this is going to help to stay afloat. They don't have to furlough anyone if they just accept DACA applications. Again, it's not because it's the right thing to do, it's because it's profitable or sustainable. It's actually, the biggest takeaway I've had from those case, as I think about teaching immigration ... I'm teaching immigration law and administrative law next year, both. For me, the biggest takeaway for me, as a teacher, is victory doesn't always look the way you want it to look.

If you have a certain desired outcome, which is preventing the Trump administration from rescinding this program, at least, for today, ideally the outcome and the reasoning maps onto your own experiences. But we talked about how, earlier, the ideal vehicle for that would have been equal protection, but of course, that just didn't happen. Only Sotomayor was willing to go there. You're left with sort of arbitrary and capricious review, which is really an odd and peculiar phrase. But I just want to say this to organizers and people engaged in the business and want to be lawyers, I understand that arbitrary and capricious is never going to bring people to the streets. I realize there's never going to be a placard, but that is a legal concept that allays human suffering.

In other words, the reason why we have that is that, when presidents come in and they change political parties, change is going to happen, but it has to happen slowly because there are reliant interests that people expect certain benefits, they need certain things to survive and go through their daily lives. When you change that, when you unsettle that, you create suffering, and that's effectively what arbitrary and capricious tries to deny. Of course, suffering is a bad thing, but you have to way that against all these other benefits. Let's not do this without at least a little bit of self-reflection.

Again, I explained this, that administrative laws may be the most important class that advocates take, but don't realize, and this is a great reason that again, maybe you don't feel completely satisfied with the outcome. On the other hand, this is one of those tools that is going to be very useful for you as you're trying to thwart the efforts of immigration officials.

Okay. Thank you for taking the time out of your very busy schedule to talk about this case. I think that I learned a lot. I couldn't have imagined two better people to talk to about this issue. I'm grateful for all that you guys have done, and I hope that we can talk again soon. Goodbye.

[MA]: Thank you, Stephen. Thank you Viri.

[SL]: Thanks guys.

[Narrator]: Thank you for joining us for UCI Law Talks, produced by the University of California, Irvine School of Law.