Texas Federal Judge Rules DACA is Unconstitutional

On July 16, 2021, a federal judge in Texas ruled that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is illegal and blocked the Biden administration from accepting new applicants. However, current recipients can keep their status and continue to renew their protections while the case goes through the appeals process. 

In 2012, the Obama administration created DACA to allow undocumented immigrants—who arrived in the United States when they were children—to live, study, and work in the country without fear of deportation. There are currently more than 600,000 “Dreamers” who are currently protected under the program. 

U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen ruled in favor of Texas and eight other conservative-led states, saying the program is unconstitutional because DACA was created through executive action, rather than by Congress, which violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). In addition, he said the program prevented immigration officials from enforcing the Immigration and Nationality Act, specifically removal provisions. 

The Trump administration tried to end DACA in 2017, but the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June 2020 that the move failed to consider the interests of hundreds and thousands of Dreamers and violated the APA. Although President Trump attempted to stop accepting new applicants and impose other limits on the program, a federal judge in New York reversed those measures in December 2020. 

The difference between the SCOTUS ruling in June 2020 and Haden’s decision is that the former addressed a president’s failure to take the proper steps to reverse or undo a predecessor’s executive actions, while the most recent case addressed how DACA is illegal because it was created by executive action instead of legislation.  

President Joe Biden and the Department of Justice (DOJ) vow to appeal Haden’s ruling in the Fifth Circuit of Appeals. But the Fifth Circuit is arguably the most conservative federal court of appeals in the nation. So, if the Fifth Court upholds Haden’s decision to end DACA and the Supreme Court chooses not to hear the case, then the program will come to an end. 

If that is the case, the only way DACA can be saved is if Congress passes legislation to provide a permanent remedy for Dreamers. The American Dream and Promise Act—which offers a pathway to legal permanent residency (i.e., green cards) and citizenship to undocumented immigrants—has passed the House in two sessions but has yet to come to a vote in the Senate. 

If you are interested in applying for DACA or renewing your protections in Arizona, contact our Phoenix legal team at Kanu & Associates, P.C. today at (602) 353-7795 for experienced immigration services. 

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