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Federal judge in Texas blocks new DACA applications as illegal

HOUSTON, Texas — A federal judge in Texas on Friday ruled that Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the Obama-era program shielding certain undocumented immigrants from deportation, is illegal and blocked new applicants.

U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen ruled in favor of Texas and eight other conservative states that had sued to halt DACA, which provides limited protections to about 650,000 people.

The ruling halts new approvals and applications, but those hundreds of thousands already enrolled will keep their protections for now.

The states argued DACA was unconstitutional. Supporters of DACA had argued the states lacked the standing to sue.

Hanen’s decision limits the immediate ability of Biden, who pledged during his campaign to protect DACA, to keep the program or something similar in place. His ruling is the second by a federal judge in Texas stopping Biden’s immigration plans, after a court barred enforcement of Biden’s 100-day stay on most deportations. The program has been challenged in court since former President Barack Obama instituted it in June 2012.

In Friday’s ruling, Hanen wrote that the states proved “the hardship that the continued operation of DACA has inflicted on them.”

He continued: “Furthermore, the government has no legitimate interest in the continuation of an illegally implemented program.”

Biden has already proposed legislation that would provide a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 million people living in the U.S. without authorization. He also ordered agencies to make efforts to preserve the program.

Supporters of DACA, including those who argued before Hanen to save it, have said a law passed by Congress is necessary to provide permanent relief. Hanen has said Congress must act if the U.S. wants to provide the protections in DACA to recipients commonly known as “Dreamers.”

The U.S. House approved legislation in March creating a pathway toward citizenship for “Dreamers,” but the measure has been stalled in the Senate. Immigration advocates hope to include a provision opening that citizenship doorway in sweeping budget legislation Democrats want to approve this year, but it’s unclear whether that language will survive.

Hanen’s ruling came after a nearly 3 1/2 hour court hearing Dec. 22 on DACA’s fate.

The states argued that Obama never had the authority in 2012 to create DACA because it circumvented Congress. The states also argued that the program drains their educational and healthcare resources.

Suing alongside Texas were Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, South Carolina, and West Virginia — states that all had Republican governors or state attorneys general.

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office, which defended the program on behalf of a group of DACA recipients, argued Obama did have the authority and that the states lacked the standing to sue because they had not suffered any harm due to the program.

Hanen rejected Texas’ request in 2018 to stop the program through a preliminary injunction. But in a foreshadowing of his latest ruling, he said he believed DACA as enacted was likely unconstitutional.

“If the nation truly wants to have a DACA program, it is up to Congress to say so,” Hanen wrote in 2018.

Hanen ruled in 2015 that Obama could not expand DACA protections or institute a program shielding their parents.

While DACA is often described as a program for young immigrants, many recipients have lived in the U.S. for a decade or longer after being brought into the country without permission or overstaying visas. The liberal Center for American Progress says roughly 254,000 children have at least one parent relying on DACA. Some recipients are grandparents.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that former President Donald Trump’s attempt to end DACA in 2017 was unlawful. A New York judge in December ordered the Trump administration to restore the program as enacted by Obama.

Todd Schulte, president of FWD.us, a progressive organization, expressed disappointment at Friday’s ruling, saying in a statement that DACA has been a big success that has transformed many lives.

“Today makes absolutely clear: only a permanent legislative solution passed by Congress will eliminate the fear and uncertainty that DACA recipients have been forced to live with for years. We call on each and every elected office to do everything within their power so that DACA recipients and their families and communities can live free from fear, and continue to build their lives here,” Schulte said.

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Associated Press

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Comments

20 Comments

        1. Google nitwit. Breibart that you hate has a better article as to why it was ruled illegal. Get off your fat rear end and don’t be a Charlie Dumbo.

        1. Wrong again nitwit.
          From CNN, June 2020. “The Supreme Court’s ruling Thursday was specific to how the program was rescinded, not the program’s legality. It’s possible, then, that the Trump administration could go back and try to end DACA again, but they have a narrow window to do so given the upcoming election. Roberts acknowledged that possibility.”

        1. Plus the states have to provide schooling for these kids at state and taxpayers’ expense. Also the states manage Medicaid and the TANF programs meaning funding comes from the states’ coffers not just federal. That’s harm and it gives them standing to sue.

          1. thats not the harm that would give the state standing. In fact its not harm at all.

  1. Congress will have to end the argument and it will only take 51 votes from the Dems. Get it done. The vast majority of Americans don’t want these people deported.

      1. Give them an inch and they want 12. Now pushing for amnesty. BTW – The Republicans and President Trump were going to support the DACA. He wanted legislation but the greedy Democrats ruined it for the DACA. Your buddy Obama screwed this one up in the first place.

    1. stop making it up as you go along, the majority does not want these illegals here and you know it. you want them here because you hate america

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