Federal Judge Declares DACA Program Illegal and Bars New Applicants

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Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) an Obama-era program that has allowed nearly 800,000 young people brought into the U.S. illegally as children to avoid deportation is facing uncertainty yet again.

U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen has deemed the program illegal, barring the government from approving any new applications, but leaving the program intact for existing recipients.

DACA was established by the Obama administration in 2012.

The program offers undocumented immigrants who were brought into the country as children protection from deportation as well as permission to work in the U.S.

While the program does not provide permanent security or a path to citizenship it did provide many with a sense of hope. That is until Friday when Judge Hanen in Texas declared it unlawful.

“What Judge Hanen, out of Texas, said is that it was illegally implemented in that it did not comply with the administrative procedures act,” said immigration attorney Esther Valdes.

The Administrative Procedures Act dictates what rules must be followed to implement certain policies.

Friday’s ruling came after a lawsuit brought by Texas and eight other states that argued the Obama Administration failed to publish the proposal and seek public comment before enforcing it.

“What is being stopped immediately is DACA initial applications, those that had commenced in December 2020, when the initial program was initiated, those that have been submitted. According to the Wall Street Journal, they are reporting that approximately 80,000 new DACA applicants are still in limbo,” said Valdes.

The government is expected to appeal the decision. The judge put the effect of most of his ruling on hold while the case is appealed.

President Biden reacted to the ruling Saturday morning calling it “deeply disappointing.”

The case could end up before the supreme court, where DACA defenders would be facing a conservative majority.

Immigration Attorney Esther Valdes says regardless of what happens next she expects the ruling will likely add new pressure on Congress and the Biden Administration to come up with a permanent solution.

The program has faced a roller coaster of court challenges since former President Barack Obama instituted it in June 2012. The Trump administration announced it was ending the program in September 2017, but the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2020 that the administration hadn't ended the program properly, keeping it alive once more.

According to the U.S. Citizenship and immigration services department, currently, about 615,000 immigrants are enrolled in the DACA program.

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