In a stunning turn of events, a federal judge on Wednesday declared the Deferred Action of Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program illegal in a new court ruling.
The decision comes after a five-year long court battle which has left the future of Dreamers hanging in the balance.
Judge Andrew S. Hanen of the District Court of Houston rejected the Biden administration’s efforts to save the DACA program, arguing that former President Barack Obama did not have the authority to create the program in 2012 by executive authority.
In his ruling, Judge Hanen stopped short of terminating the program which will mean that current DACA recipients can retain their DACA benefits and apply for renewals with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). However, initial first-time applications for DACA will remain prohibited.
In 2021, the Biden administration sought to defend the legality of DACA by issuing a Proposed Rule in the Federal Register to preserve and fortify the program. This came after Judge Hanen issued a prior ruling arguing that the government failed to abide by the public notice and comment procedure required by the Administrative Procedures Act before. This prompted Texas along with eight other states (Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina, West Virginia, Kansas, Mississippi) to sue the federal government bringing the case before Judge Hanen yet again.
Unfortunately, the Biden administration’s efforts to appease the Judge did not work. Ultimately the Judge indicated that only Congress could enact legislation to protect Dreamers, and passing such a program was not under the authority of the President.