Despite an attempt by President Joe Biden’s administration to strengthen the program’s standing with a new regulation, a U.S. judge on Wednesday rejected a program providing “Dreamers,” or immigrants brought to the country illegally as children, with deportation protection and work permits.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, its 579,000 participants, and other immigrants who might have hoped to be approved suffer yet another setback as a result of the ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen, who is headquartered in Texas.
Hanen, a judge selected by Republicans, said that a regulation released by Biden’s administration last year did not address the legal issues that prompted him to declare DACA illegal in 2021 and halt any expansion of the program, which has been in place for more than ten years.
Prior to Hanen’s 2021 decision, persons who were enrolled in DACA may still have their status renewed by the US Department of Homeland Security, he added. Many DACA recipients are English-speaking, live, work, and have families in the US.
Hanen claimed that the order did not compel American immigration authorities “to take any immigration, deportation, or criminal action against any DACA recipient, applicant, or any other individual that would otherwise not be taken.”
It is anticipated that the decision, which came in response to a lawsuit filed by Texas and other states, will be appealed.
White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said in a written statement made public on Wednesday night: “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.” “While we do so, consistent with the court’s order, DHS will continue to process renewals for current DACA recipients, and DHS may continue to accept DACA applications.”
The present DACA recipients will not lose their protection from deportation as a result of the verdict, according to Alejandro Mayorkas, secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, in a separate statement. However, this decision jeopardizes the safety and stability of more than 500,000 Dreamers who have benefited our communities.
Greg Abbott, the governor of Texas and a Republican, did not respond to a request for comment right away.
Defending DACA recipients and supporting the Biden administration in the legal battle is Thomas Saenz, president of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), who labeled Hanen’s decision “more of the same flawed analysis.”
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has made it a mission to uphold DACA, which was established in 2012 under former President Barack Obama when Biden served as vice president. Biden is running for re-election in 2024. Texas and eight other states with Republican attorneys general contended that the program is illegal and burdens them with expenses for law enforcement, healthcare, and education.
Hanen’s decision to reject DACA was upheld by the libertarian-leaning 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in October 2022, but the matter was returned back to him for reconsideration in light of Biden’s regulation formalizing the initiative.
Former President Donald Trump, a Republican running for re-election in 2024, attempted to terminate DACA but was denied by the U.S. Supreme Court because his plan did not adhere to legal requirements.
According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services data, almost 81% of DACA applicants are from Mexico, with El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras following closely behind. Texas is home to 95,000 people, while California is home to 164,000, supporting the legal defense of the DACA program.