(USA Features) A federal judge in Texas on Friday blocked the filing of new applications to an Obama-era program that protects migrants brought illegally into the U.S. as children from being deported, though he said the hundreds of thousands currently enrolled wouldn’t be affected until further court rulings.
In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen, a George W. Bush appointee, sided with several states that sued to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. They argued the program was unconstitutionally imposed by then-President Barack Obama in 2012.
Hanen ruled that DACA violated the Administrative Procedure Act when Obama created it but noted that since so many people are currently enrolled in the program — estimated to be about 650,000 people — he would temporarily stay his decision regarding the states’ cases until further court rulings were issued.
“This consideration, along with the Government’s assertion that it is ready and willing to try to remedy the legal defects of the DACA program, indicates that equity will not be served by a complete and immediate cessation of DACA,” Hanen wrote in the ruling.
“To be clear,” Hanen wrote, the order contains no requirements for the federal government to take “any immigration, deportation or criminal action against any DACA recipient.”
Still, the judge found that the Department of Homeland Security’s interpretation of statutes was “overly broad” and those statutes did not carry the authority for the federal government to institute the program.
“DACA would grant lawful presence and work authorization to over a million people for whom Congress had made no provision and has consistently refused to make such a provision,” Hanen wrote.
President Joe Biden, who was vice president when Obama created the program via executive order, has said he wants to create a pathway to citizenship for DACA participants, who are known as “Dreamers.”
Since it was created by executive fiat, former President Donald Trump attempted to end the program in the same manner, but the U.S. Supreme Court blocked him, siding with lower courts who said he did not utilize the proper procedures.
Writing for the majority last year, Chief Justice John Roberts said Trump administration officials failed to provide detailed justifications for canceling the program, declaring Trump’s decision “arbitrary and capricious.”
“We do not decide whether DACA or its rescission are sound policies,” Roberts wrote. “The wisdom of those decisions is none of our concern.
“Here we address only whether the Administration complied with the procedural requirements in the law that insist on ‘a reasoned explanation for its action,'” Roberts wrote.
Following Hanen’s ruling, left-wing legal organizations vowed to fight it while encouraging the Biden administration and majority Democrats in Congress to act to codify Obama’s rule.
“Judge Hanen’s rash decision to suspend the DACA program reiterates the immediate need for Congress AND the Biden administration to keep their promise and create a pathway to citizenship for all undocumented people in the U.S.,” the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services tweeted.
“It is absolutely urgent that Congress acts now through the budget reconciliation process to provide Dreamers and other undocumented members of our communities with reliable status and a pathway to citizenship,” added Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project.