Judge Rules DACA Program Unlawful Again, Biden Administration Vows to Continue Defense

by | Sep 14, 2023 | Firm News, Immigration Explained

On Wednesday, a federal judge once again delivered a verdict on the fate of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, reiterating his belief that it is in violation of the law. Judge Andrew Hanen, presiding over the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, rejected the Biden administration’s latest efforts to legitimize and enshrine this Obama-era policy into federal regulations. It’s worth noting that this isn’t Judge Hanen’s first time ruling against DACA.

In his decision, Judge Hanen expressed sympathy for DACA recipients and their families while emphasizing his longstanding concerns regarding the program’s legal basis. He made a significant point about the separation of powers, asserting that the executive branch cannot overstep its bounds and take authority reserved for Congress as dictated by the Constitution. While Judge Hanen’s ruling allows the DACA program to persist temporarily, it maintains the prohibition on new applicants from applying.

The Biden administration responded to the ruling with deep disappointment, highlighting their commitment to allowing hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients to live and work lawfully in the United States without the constant fear of deportation. White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre underscored their disagreement with the District Court’s conclusion that DACA is unlawful and reaffirmed their dedication to defending this pivotal policy against legal challenges.

Seven Republican-leaning states, united in their desire to terminate DACA, have argued that the updated program was improperly implemented and represented an executive overreach. They assert ongoing financial losses due to the presence of immigrants allowed to remain in the country without legal authorization.

Originally established in 2012 during the Obama administration, DACA shields specific individuals brought to the United States as children without proper documentation from deportation.

Judge Hanen’s earlier ruling in 2021 declared DACA unlawful due to its lack of adherence to the formal agency rulemaking process. In response to ongoing legal battles, the Biden administration took steps in the prior year to fortify and safeguard DACA and its beneficiaries by releasing a final rule intended to formalize the program.

It is almost certain that the Biden administration will appeal this decision, and legal experts anticipate that the case will eventually reach the U.S. Supreme Court.