Federal Judge Rules That DACA is Illegal, Leaving Immigrants in Limbo As Democrats Vow to Act

A federal judge in Texas on Friday ruled that the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals is illegal, CNN reports.

District Court Judge Andrew Hanen, a George W. Bush appointee, issued an order barring any new applications to the program that bars undocumented immigrants who were brought to the US as children from deportation.

Hanen did not immediately cancel the existing permits for some 700,000 people, but the ruling leaves them in limbo once again as the decision is set to be appealed.

"Hundreds of thousands of individual DACA recipients, along with their employers, states, and loved ones, have come to rely on the DACA program," Hanen wrote. "Given those interests, it is not equitable for a government program that has engendered such a significant reliance to terminate suddenly."

Hanen ruled that Congress did not authorize the Department of Homeland Security to create DACA and that it prevented immigration authorities from enforcing the Immigration and Nationality Act.

"Congress has not granted the Executive Branch free rein to grant lawful presence outside the ambit of the statutory scheme," Hanen wrote.

The Trump administration tried to cancel DACA in 2017 but the Supreme Court blocked the bid in 2020. A federal judge later shot down their attempt to limit applications.

Biden vows appeal:

President Joe Biden said that Justice Department would appeal the “deeply disappointing ruling.”

"Yesterday's Federal court ruling is deeply disappointing,” he said. “While the court's order does not now affect current DACA recipients, this decision nonetheless relegates hundreds of thousands of young immigrants to an uncertain future.”

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said that the agency will "engage the public in a rulemaking process to preserve and fortify DACA," and "continue processing DACA renewal requests, consistent with the ruling.”

"I urge Congress to act swiftly to enact legislation through the reconciliation process to provide permanent protection that the American people want and Dreamers have earned," he said.

Congressional action stalled:

Democrats have been calling for a comprehensive bill to create permanent protections for DACA recipients but the legislation has stalled.

"As we await the swift stay that the law clearly requires, Democrats will continue to press for any and all paths to ensure that the Dream and Promise Act, now passed twice by the House, becomes the law of the land," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement. "Democrats call on Republicans in Congress to join us in respecting the will of the American people and the law, to ensure that Dreamers have a permanent path to citizenship.”

Former President Barack Obama said on Twitter that it’s “long past time for Congress to act and give them the protection and certainty they deserve."

New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez tweeted that the decision was “not a surprise” but a “painful reminder that we need to stop relying on temporary immigration fixes."

"Congress must seize the moment and any and all opportunities to finally provide a pathway to legalization for millions of undocumented immigrants," he said.


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