A federal judge on Wednesday declared illegal a revised version of a federal policy barring the deportation of hundreds of thousands of immigrants brought to the United States as children, refusing to rule when -immediate program termination and protections. offers recipients.
US District Judge Andrew Hanen agreed with Texas and eight other states suing to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program. The judge’s decision is expected to ultimately be appealed to the US Supreme Court, sending the program’s fate to the high court for a third time.
“While understanding the plight of DACA recipients and their families, this Court has expressed concerns about the legality of the program for some time,” Hanen wrote in his 40-page decision. “The solution to these deficiencies lies with the legislative branch, not the executive or the judiciary. Congress, for a variety of reasons, has decided not to pass legislation similar to DACA… The Executive Branch cannot usurp the power granted of the Constitutional Congress, even to fill a void.
Hanen’s order extends an existing court order against DACA, which prohibits the government from approving new applications, but leaves the program intact for existing recipients during an ongoing review. legally.
Hanen also rejected a request from states to order the program to end within two years. Hanen said his order does not require the federal government to take any action against DACA recipients, known as “Dreamers.”
Thomas Sáenz, president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, or MALDEF, which represents DACA recipients in the lawsuit, said it will ultimately be in the higher courts, including the Supreme Court. , the rule of law and if Texas shows that it is damaged by the program.
“Judge Hanen was consistently wrong in addressing both issues, and today’s ruling is more of the same flawed analysis. We look forward to continuing to protect the legal and necessary DACA program under scrutiny by higher courts ,” said Sáenz.
The Biden administration criticized the judge’s ruling.
“We are deeply disappointed by today’s DACA decision from the South Texas District Court,” press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement Wednesday night. “…As we have long maintained, we disagree with the District Court’s conclusion that DACA is illegal and will continue to defend this critical policy from legal challenges. As we do so, consistent with the court order, DHS will continue to process renewals for current DACA recipients and DHS (Department of Homeland Security) may continue to accept DACA applications.
The Texas Attorney General’s Office, which represents the states in the case, and the US Department of Justice, which represents the federal government, did not immediately return emails and calls seeking comment.
The states argued that the Obama administration did not have the authority to enact the program in 2012 because it bypassed Congress.
In 2021, Hanen declared the program illegal and ruled that it was not subject to public notice or comment periods required by the federal Administrative Procedures Act.
The Biden administration is trying to address Hanen’s concerns with a new version of DACA that goes into effect in October 2022 and is subject to public comment as part of a formal rulemaking process.
But Hanen, who was appointed by former President George W. Bush in 2002, ruled that the updated version of DACA is still illegal because the new version of the Biden administration is the same as the previous version, started under the Obama administration. Hanen has previously said DACA is unconstitutional.
Hanen also previously ruled that the states had standing to sue because they were harmed by the program.
States claim they will incur hundreds of millions of dollars in health care, education and other costs if immigrants are allowed to remain in the country illegally. The states being sued are Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina, West Virginia, Kansas and Mississippi.
Those defending the program (the federal government, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the state of New Jersey) argue that the states have not shown evidence that any of the costs they claim to have incurred are linked to the recipients of the DACA. They also argue that Congress gave the Department of Homeland Security the legal authority to set immigration enforcement policies.
There were 578,680 people enrolled in DACA at the end of March, according to US Citizenship and Immigration Services.
The program has faced a rollercoaster of court challenges over the years.
In 2016, the Supreme Court reached a 4-4 impasse on an expanded DACA and a version of the program for parents of DACA recipients. In 2020, the high court ruled 5-4 that the Trump administration improperly ended DACA, allowing it to remain in effect.
In 2022, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans upheld Hanen’s earlier ruling that DACA was illegal, but he remanded the case to review changes made to the program by the Biden administration.
President Joe Biden and advocacy groups are calling on Congress to pass permanent protections for “Dreamers.” Congress has repeatedly failed to pass proposals called the DREAM Act to protect DACA recipients.
“We continue to urge Congress and President Biden to create permanent solutions for all immigrants to ensure that no one is left on the dangerous path that DACA has been on for the last decade,” Verónica García, a attorney at the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, an advocacy organization. he said in a statement.