US

Texas Judge Bans New DACA Applications, Says Program Was Created Illegally

(Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

Nicole Silverio Contributor
Font Size:

A Texas federal judge blocked new Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) applications in a Friday court decision.

Former President Barack Obama issued DACA through executive action in 2012 in an effort to protect roughly 800,000 undocumented immigrants, who arrived as children, from both deportation and giving them the legal ability to work. In 2018, seven states, including Texas, South Carolina and Alabama, filed a lawsuit in federal court striving to end the program, the Center of American Progress reported.

U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen sided with the states arguing that the Obama-era program violates the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), according to Reuters. His decision blocked President Joe Biden’s administration from accepting new applications, which places pressure on Biden’s administration to come up with a permanent solution in order to allow undocumented people to remain in the country, which Biden has continuously vowed to do, according to Politico.

The APA oversees federal agencies’ process in creating and issuing regulations and allows the public to comment on the policy, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency. The judge argued that Obama did not publish a proposal of the program or seek the public’s opinion, NBC reported.

Immigration rights activists hold a rally in front of the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC, November 12, 2019, as the Court hears arguments about ending the Obama-era DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program. - The US Supreme Court hears arguments on November 12, 2019 on the fate of the "Dreamers," an estimated 700,000 people brought to the country illegally as children but allowed to stay and work under a program created by former president Barack Obama.Known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA, the program came under attack from President Donald Trump who wants it terminated, and expired last year after the Congress failed to come up with a replacement. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

Immigration rights activists hold a rally in front of the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC, November 12, 2019. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

Hanen said his ruling does not uphold that the government is required to deport or prosecute a DACA recipient, Reuters reported. He ruled that the program should not be suddenly overturned, but should be reexamined in order to ensure its legality, according to the Washington Post. 

“Hundreds of thousands of individual DACA recipients, along with their employers, states, and loved ones, have come to rely on the DACA program. Given those interests, it is not equitable for a government program that has engendered such a significant reliance to terminate suddenly,” Hanen wrote in the ruling. “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 immediate cessation of DACA.”

The judge issued a permanent injunction, a court order ruling that a person take or refrain from a certain action, against the memo that created DACA. Hanan additionally alerted the Department of Homeland Security to reconsider the program, the Post reported.

Hanen had formerly rejected the seven states’ request to block DACA applications in 2018, despite believing that the executive action was illegal. He argued that it is the U.S. Congress’ responsibility to make a decision on a “popular program.” (RELATED: Federal Judge Will Continue Accepting DACA Applications Despite Believing The Program Is Illegal) 

“DACA is a popular program and one that Congress should consider saving,” he said in his former decision. “This court will not succumb to the temptation to set aside legal principles and to substitute its judgment in lieu of legislative action. If the nation truly wants to have a DACA program, it is up to Congress to say so.”

Hanen heard a Dec. 22, 2020 court hearing where Texas, along with eight other states, asked the judge to end DACA on the basis that the program illegally awarded work authorization benefits and states’ costs, NPR previously reported. Hanen announced at the time that he would make decision at a later date, in which he changed his original ruling.

Former President Donald Trump’s administration, which promised to rescind DACA, was threatened with a lawsuit by 10 Republican Attorneys Generals if the program was not overturned in June 2019. The Supreme Court ruled the former president’s administration could not terminate DACA in a June 18, 2020 decision.

President Joe Biden, who served as vice president under Obama during the passage of DACA, asked Congress to pass the U.S. Citizenship Act that would offer undocumented immigrants a pathway to citizenship in early June.