DACA program dealt major blow by federal judge in Texas
Houston, Texas - A federal judge in Texas has ruled that the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration program is unlawful.
Judge Andrew Hanen has declared DACA unlawful for the second time, following up on a similar ruling he issued in 2021.
"While sympathetic to the predicament of DACA recipients and their families, this Court has expressed its concerns about the legality of the program for some time," Hanen wrote in his ruling, claiming it violates the Administrative Procedure Act, which determines how agencies can make regulations.
"The solution for these deficiencies lies with the legislature, not the executive or judicial branches," the judge continued. "Congress, for any number of reasons, has decided not to pass DACA-like legislation."
DACA currently protects around 600,000 "Dreamers," or people brought to the US without documentation as children, from deportation.
Hanen said his ruling would not strip DACA protections from current recipients or prevent the processing of renewal requests.
"To be clear, neither this order nor the accompanying supplemental injunction requires the (Department of Homeland Security) or the Department of Justice to take any immigration, deportation, or criminal action against any DACA recipient, applicant, or any other individual that would otherwise not be taken," he wrote.
White House responds to latest DACA ruling
The White House has said it is "deeply disappointed" by Wednesday's decision out of Texas.
"During this Administration, hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients have been able to live and work lawfully in our country without fear of deportation," Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement. "As we have long maintained, we disagree with the District Court’s conclusion that DACA is unlawful, and will continue to defend this critical policy from legal challenges."
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has said his department will continue to process renewals despite the judge's ruling.
DACA, created under President Barack Obama in 2012, was dealt a blow by Hanen in a 2021 ruling largely upheld by a federal appeals court. As a result, new applications were barred, but people who were already recipients were allowed to remain under the program as the case played out in court.
The Biden administration issued a new rule last year designed to preserve and strengthen DACA, prompting Republican-controlled states to call on Hanen once again.
Hanen has argued that Congress should step up to the plate, but the legislature has so far failed to enact much-needed protections for Dreamers.
Cover photo: Drew Angerer / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP