A federal judge on Wednesday declared illegal a tweaked version of a federal program that prevents the deportation of hundreds of thousands of immigrants brought to the United States as children.
Federal Judge Andrew Hanen agreed with Texas and eight other states that had filed a lawsuit to stop the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The judge’s decision is expected to be appealed to the Supreme Court, sending the program to the highest court for the third time.
Hanen banned the government from approving new applications but maintained the program for current recipients during the scheduled appeal process. Hanen said his order does not require the federal government to take action against DACA recipients.
The states claim that President Barack Obama’s administration had no authority to create the program in 2012 because it bypassed Congress.
In 2021, Hanen declared the program illegal, finding that the measure was not subject to public notice and comment periods set forth in the Federal Administrative Procedure Act.
The federal government attempted to address Hanen’s concerns with a new version of DACA that went into effect in October 2022 and was subject to public comment as part of the formal deployment process.
But Hanen, who was appointed to the position in 2002 by then-President George W. Bush, ruled that the updated version of DACA remained illegal. He had previously argued that DACA was unconstitutional and that it was up to Congress to pass an initiative that would protect the people welcomed into the program, known as “Dreamers.”
Hanen had also previously ruled that states had standing to sue because they were harmed by the program.