A federal judge in Texas has issued a permanent injunction which prohibits anyone new from signing up for DACA. However the judge stopped short of ending DACA for the roughly 600,000 people who have already applied.
U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen in Brownsville, Texas, said the Obama administration failed to follow federal administrative rules in launching the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in 2012. But he put the effect of most of his ruling on hold while the case is appealed.
“It is not equitable for a government program that has engendered such significant reliance to terminate suddenly,” Hanen said. As a result, the status of people currently in the program does not change, and they can continue to seek renewal of the DACA status.
But he said the Department of Homeland Security cannot grant any new applications from people who have never been in the program.
Despite the fact that DACA will continue to exist under this ruling, the judge’s decision was definitely a rebuke of former president Obama:
Hanen’s ruling called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, an “illegally implemented program” and said “the public interest of the nation is always served by the cessation of a program that was created in violation of law and whose existence violates the law.”
The judge’s decision made it clear that action such as DACA needs to originate in Congress: “Congress has not granted the Executive Branch free rein to grant lawful presence outside the ambit of the statutory scheme,” Hanen wrote. In response to the decision, some Democrats are calling for an appeal to overturn the decision:
This rightwing hack judge in Texas is trying to unilaterally stop the DACA program. This decision must be appealed and tossed out. https://t.co/0vasO2vFZJ
— Bill Pascrell, Jr. (@BillPascrell) July 16, 2021
But others are implicitly agreeing with Judge Hanen that congressional action is necessary to rescue DACA:
The lives of Dreamers cannot continue to be a political football for right-wing attacks. With DACA under constant assault, the Senate must keep its promise and pass a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers & others too. No more excuses, no more delays. https://t.co/FASIldSa6H
— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) July 16, 2021
Terrible decision on DACA by a federal judge in Texas.
The dreams of hundreds of thousands of young people who are contributing to the American economy will be put on hold for no good reason.
Congress must pass a pathway to citizenship this year. We can’t wait.
— Joaquin Castro (@JoaquinCastrotx) July 16, 2021
The stakes have been raised, and futures of hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients hang in the balance.
We must move in this Congress to protect DACA and create a path to citizenship for all undocumented people.
— Jamaal Bowman (@JamaalBowmanNY) July 16, 2021
It’s beyond infuriating that the future of DACA recipients is always tied to the next court ruling. People currently under the program and those who qualify for it need a permanent solution NOW. Congress and @POTUS need to provide a pathway to citizenship. It can’t wait. https://t.co/zigNl0ifQf
— Congressman Chuy García (@RepChuyGarcia) July 16, 2021
The NY Times reports that the Biden administration will appeal this which means it’s going to return to the Supreme Court sooner or later:
The ruling also represents a significant new challenge for Mr. Biden as he attempts to build support in Congress for his ambitious plan to legalize up to 10 million other immigrants who are in the country without authorization.
The Biden administration is expected to appeal the ruling, and unless Congress steps in with a legislative remedy, the ultimate legality of DACA is almost certain to be decided by the Supreme Court…
In June 2020, the Supreme Court ruled against the Trump administration’s decision to terminate the program, deeming its rescission in 2017 “arbitrary and capricious.” But the high court did not rule on whether the program had been legally adopted.
I guess the immediate question is whether this puts some additional pressure on moderate Democrats to get rid of the filibuster so they can expand DACA and offer a path to legal status before they lose their majority next year. Democrats were very concerned about Trump’s improved performance with Hispanic voters last year. The politics of offering citizenship to millions of people has to be very appealing to them at this moment.
But if we do go down that path, what happens at the southern border? Biden said about six months ago that he didn’t want to see 2 million people show up at the border this year. We’re already at 1.1 million as of last month. He should think carefully about what might happen if he loosens up the rules even more.