A federal judge issued a ruling on Wednesday deeming a revised federal policy, which aimed to prevent the deportation of hundreds of thousands of immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, as illegal.
U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen sided with Texas and eight other states that had filed a lawsuit seeking to halt the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
This decision is likely to be appealed, potentially leading to a third consideration of DACA by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Judge Hanen’s ruling prevents the government from accepting new DACA applications but maintains the program for existing recipients during the anticipated appeals process.
Undoing Obama’s Legacy
Importantly, Hanen clarified that his order does not require the federal government to take any actions against current DACA recipients.
The lawsuit brought by the states contends that the Obama administration overstepped its authority in establishing the program in 2012, bypassing Congress.
In 2021, Hanen previously declared DACA illegal, citing its failure to undergo the public notice and comment periods mandated by the federal Administrative Procedures Act.
In response to Hanen’s concerns, the Biden administration introduced a revised version of DACA in October 2022, which underwent public comments as part of a formal rule-making process.
Nevertheless, Hanen, appointed by President George W. Bush in 2002, deemed the updated DACA still illegal and reiterated his stance that DACA was unconstitutional.
He maintained that it was Congress’s responsibility to enact legislation to protect individuals under the program, often referred to as “Dreamers.”
Suffering Financial Harm
Previously, Hanen had ruled that the states had the standing to bring their lawsuit because they had suffered financial harm due to the program, incurring costs related to healthcare, education, and other expenses when immigrants remained in the country illegally.
The states involved in the lawsuit are Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina, West Virginia, Kansas, and Mississippi.
In defense of the program, the federal government, the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and the state of New Jersey argued that the states failed to provide evidence linking the alleged costs to DACA recipients.
Who Holds the Authority?
They also contended that Congress had granted the Department of Homeland Security the legal authority to establish immigration enforcement policies.
Although Hanen had previously declared DACA illegal, he had allowed the program to continue for existing beneficiaries but prohibited new applicants during the appeals process.
As of the end of March, there were 578,680 people enrolled in DACA, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Further Legal Challenges
DACA has faced numerous legal challenges over the years, including a 2016 Supreme Court deadlock over an expanded DACA and a related program for parents of DACA recipients.
In 2020, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the Trump administration’s attempt to end DACA was improper, allowing the program to continue.
President Joe Biden and advocacy groups have called on Congress to pass permanent protections for “Dreamers.”
Congress has repeatedly failed to pass legislation such as the DREAM Act aimed at safeguarding DACA recipients.
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Source: USA Today