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Immigration Law

FOIA Request Reveals Internal Documents on DACA

Prof. Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia writes: "In Fall 2012 I filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request with DHS seeking records pertaining to the agency's implementation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program, among other items.  DHS provided me with a formal response on March 4, 2013.  I received roughly 406 readable pages of internal memoranda and guidance used by DHS to implement DACA.  Specifically, the FOIA Request yielded:

• National Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, prepared by Service Center Operations Directorate, September 13, 2012 (p. 1-140 with Appendices)

• Training Module for Immigration Officers about DACA

• Training Module on Responding to DACA Related Requests through the Service Request Management Tool

The FOIA response illustrates that DHS has invested significant resources to train adjudicators responsible for processing DACA applications.  Thus, the transparency that DHS has shown to the public through “FAQs,” stakeholder calls, and monthly statistical updates appears to be matched by a meaningful training program that frankly, I have not seen with the general deferred action program.  The response itself elaborates on many of the core eligibility requirements for DACA; sheds some light on some to-date ambiguous terms such as “national security,” “exceptional circumstance,” educational and travel requirements; and provides some templates and assessment tools for scenarios such as a “rejection” or a “denial.”  The FOIA response also includes information about the cases which are automatically given “supervisory review” when a denial is recommended internally.

In an effort to provide you with the FOIA response quickly, I am sharing this memo and the link to the content a bit prematurely, in advance of doing a close study of the documents, deciding how I may use the information for scholarly purposes, or determining whether I will file an appeal.  I hope it is useful.  If you are interested in knowing more about the procedural history of this FOIA or wish to share your thoughts on the content or next steps, please feel free to email me at

My FOIA Request and the entirety of the data I received can be retrieved at this link:   [NOTE: The file is very large and may take some time to load, depending on your system.]

For data on the general deferred action program and an analysis of the data I have received from the agency in the last few years please see:

Sharing Secrets: Examining Deferred Action and Transparency in Immigration Law, University of New Hampshire Law Review, Vol. 10, No. 1

My Great FOIA Adventure and Discoveries of Deferred Action Cases at ICE, Georgetown Immigration Law Journal, Forthcoming

Thank you."

Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia, Esq.

Clinical Professor and Director

Center for Immigrants’ Rights: