Federal judge declares DACA immigration program unlawful, but allows its continuation
A federal judge has ruled that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is unlawful, but did not order the termination of protections for "Dreamers." The ruling is expected to be appealed.
A federal judge in Washington has once again declared the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration program unlawful. Judge Andrew Hanen ruled that the Biden administration's effort to codify DACA into a federal regulation was illegal, at the request of Republican-led states. Hanen had previously made a similar ruling in 2021, stating that the original memo from the Obama administration that created DACA in 2012 was also illegal.
While Hanen declared the Biden administration regulation unlawful, he did not order the termination of DACA immediately. He did not grant the request from Republican officials to completely end DACA within two years. In 2021, Hanen had allowed existing DACA beneficiaries to continue renewing their work permits and deportation protections, despite closing the program to new applicants.
The Biden administration is expected to appeal this ruling, and the case is likely to reach the Supreme Court. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals had also declared DACA illegal last year when reviewing appeals of Hanen's previous rulings.
DACA, which has been in place since 2012, allows hundreds of thousands of immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children to live and work in the country without fear of deportation if they meet certain requirements. These requirements include lacking a criminal record, arriving in the U.S. before June 2007 and by age 16, and graduating from an American high school or serving in the military.
As of March, there were 578,680 immigrants enrolled in DACA, with the majority residing in California, Texas, Illinois, and New York.
DACA has been a controversial topic in the immigration debate since its inception. While Congress has considered bipartisan proposals to provide permanent legal status to DACA recipients and other unauthorized immigrants brought to the country as children, these proposals have been hindered by broader partisan debates over immigration policy.
The Trump administration attempted to terminate DACA in 2017 as part of its crackdown on immigration. However, federal courts, including the Supreme Court, kept the program alive, ruling that the Trump administration had not properly rescinded it.
In his recent order, Judge Hanen stated that there were no significant differences between the original DACA policy and the Biden administration's rule to transform it into a federal regulation. He argued that the fate of DACA recipients should be decided by Congress, not the courts or the president.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas disagreed with Hanen's ruling, stating that it undermined the security and stability of DACA recipients who have contributed to their communities. Mayorkas, who played a role in implementing DACA in 2012, believes that the program is lawful and constitutional.
The White House also expressed its commitment to defending DACA from legal challenges and called on Congress to provide permanent protection to Dreamers.