The ruling blocks new candidates and says the program was illegally created by former President Obama.
A US federal judge in Texas has blocked new applications for a program that protects immigrants who were transferred to the United States when they were children of deportation, but said hundreds of thousands of people already enrolled would not be affected until further rulings judicial.
U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen appeared Friday alongside a group of states demanding an end to the Deferred Action for Arrivals for Children (DACA) program, arguing that it was created illegally by former President Barack Obama in 2012.
Hanen found that the program violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) when it was created, but said that since there were so many people currently enrolled in the program (about 650,000), his sentence would be temporarily suspended for his cases until new court rulings on the case. .
“To be clear,” the judge said, the order does not require the government to take “any immigration, deportation or criminal action against any DACA recipient.” Democratic President Joe Biden, who was vice president when Obama created the program, has said he wants to create a permanent path to citizenship for DACA recipients, known as “Dreamers“.
Biden issued a memorandum on his first day in office directing his national security secretary to take “any action he deems appropriate” to “preserve and fortify” the program, which former Republican President Donald Trump tried to end.
The U.S. Supreme Court last year blocked a Trump candidacy to end DACA, saying his administration had done so in an “arbitrary and capricious” manner.
Hanen’s decision limits Biden’s immediate ability, which he pledged during his campaign to protect DACA, to maintain the program or something similar. His sentence is the second by a federal judge in Texas to stop Biden’s immigration plans after a court banned the execution of Biden’s 100-day stay in most deportations.
Biden has already proposed legislation that would provide a path to citizenship for the approximately 11 million people living in the U.S. without permission. He also ordered agencies to make efforts to preserve the program.
DACA supporters, including those who argued before Hanen to save her, have said a law passed by Congress is needed to provide permanent relief. Hanen said Congress must act if the U.S. wants to provide protections to DACA to recipients.
States argued that Obama never had the authority in 2012 to create a program like the DACA because he evaded Congress. States also argued that the program drains their educational and health resources.
Next to Texas were Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, South Carolina, and West Virginia, all claiming to have Republican governors or state attorneys general.
The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the New Jersey Attorney General, who defended the program on behalf of a group of DACA recipients, had argued that Obama had the authority to institute DACA and that states did not have the ability to sue because they had not suffered any damage due to the program.
Although DACA is often described as a program for young immigrants, many beneficiaries have lived in the United States for ten years or more after being admitted to the country without a higher permit or visa. The Liberal Center for American Progress says approximately 254,000 children have at least one parent who trusts DACA. Some recipients are grandparents.
The U.S. Supreme Court has previously ruled that Trump’s attempt to end DACA in 2017 was illegal. A New York judge in December ordered the Trump administration to reinstate the program as enacted by Obama.