A Texas judge, known for ruling against the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, is once again hearing arguments about the legality of a revised version of the policy.
The Obama-era program, established in 2012, provides temporary protection from deportation and work permits to undocumented individuals who arrived in the United States as children.
The seven Republican-leaning states suing to end DACA argued before U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen that the updated program was unlawfully implemented and constitutes executive overreach. They contend that it is the responsibility of Congress, rather than the executive branch, to establish immigration policy. Additionally, the states argue they continue to suffer financial harm due to the presence of immigrants who are allowed to stay in the country unlawfully.
In 2021, Hanen ruled that DACA was unlawful in part because the program wasn’t created by the formal agency rulemaking process.
Last year, the Biden administration released the final version of a rule to codify and fortify DACA in an attempt to protect the program and its recipients from ongoing legal threats.
Advocates in favor of DACA argue that it is a compassionate policy that addresses the unique circumstances faced by individuals who arrived in the United States as children, through no fault of their own. They contend that these individuals have grown up in the country, established roots, and contribute positively to their communities. Additionally, they say that the states challenging DACA don’t have a valid reason to bring a lawsuit because they haven’t directly suffered harm from the program. They also believe that the executive branch, which is responsible for enforcing laws, has the power to make decisions about who to prosecute and how to use their resources.
What to expect after today’s hearing
First, it’s important to know that most likely, no decision around DACA will be made today, and Judge Hanen has no deadline to announce his decision. Current DACA recipients are still protected and can continue to renew their status as they normally would. Additionally, DACA recipients can still apply for Advance Parole.
If the judge rules against the revised DACA program, it is highly probable that the decision will be challenged, leading to further court proceedings. Many anticipate that the case will eventually reach the U.S. Supreme Court. During this process, current DACA recipients would likely maintain their protected status, but new applicants would still be barred from applying.