CIANA Explains: DACA and the Texas Supreme Court

On July 16, 2021, U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen ruled against President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, declaring it “unlawful.” In this blog post, we seek to break down the complexities of the ruling, as well as address concerns about how this ruling may impact current and prospective DACA recipients.

What is DACA?

DACA was a program originally established in June 2012 by the Obama administration. Under DACA, undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children are protected from deportation, and are also given authorization to legally work in the US. DACA protections are renewable and valid for two years at a time.

What was Judge Hanen’s reasoning for his decision?

Judge Hanen found the Obama administration violated the Administrative Procedure Act, an act which governs federal rulemaking, when creating DACA. According to Judge Hanen, the Biden Administration ignored the normal “notice and comment” process required by the act by not soliciting public feedback on DACA before implementing it. Instead, the administration implemented the DACA program quickly and directly via an agency memo.

What are the specifics of Judge Hanen’s ruling?

In his ruling, Judge Hanen established several directives. First, he prohibited the Department of Homeland Security from approving new DACA applications, Second, he issued a permanent order voiding the memo that created DACA in 2012. Finally, he sent the program back to the Department of Homeland Security to be rediscussed and redone.

What does this mean for current and prospective DACA recipients?

Regarding current DACA recipients, Judge Hanen acknowledged in his ruling that hundreds of thousands of immigrants currently depend on the program for support. Therefore, he agreed to pause the effect of his ruling for current DACA recipients, meaning the court’s order does not affect current DACA recipients.

If you are a current DACA recipient, your benefits will not be paused or impacted in any way as a result of this specific ruling. You will also not be blocked from renewing your enrollment in the program. (If you need assistance renewing, CIANA can help! Contact us at (718) 545-4040, or for more information.)

However, even though the order does not affect current DACA recipients, it does impact those looking to newly apply for the program, since the DHS is blocked from approving new applications.

According to CBS News, 81,000 first-time DACA applications are pending as of the end of June. All of those applicants are in limbo following Hanen’s decision and pending lawsuit appeals.

What’s Next?

The White House had a strong reaction to the ruling, with President Biden calling it “deeply disappointing,” stating the Department of Justice would appeal the decision “in order to preserve and fortify DACA,” and calling for a “permanent solution” for DREAMers. Many other organizations including the ACLU, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and National Immigration Law Center have also spoken out about the need for a permanent solution in response to the ruling, arguing DACA benefits should not be in the hands of courts. The most popular solution presently is the development of a new immigration bill which would provide a pathway to citizenship for both DACA recipients and undocumented Americans.

Again, if you are a current DACA recipient, your benefits will not be paused or impacted in any way as a result of this specific ruling. You will also not be blocked from renewing your enrollment in the program. However, keep in mind this may change as the lawsuit goes through the appeals process and the decision is reviewed by higher courts, a process which is likely to include the Supreme Court. Thus, it is important to stay updated on the progress of future rulings and appeals.

To learn more about the decision and potential appeals, check out the resources below. Feel free to contact us at CIANA directly with any additional questions you may have about DACA and DACA renewals.

Statement by President Joe Biden on DACA and Legislation for Dreamers

A Federal Judge Declared DACA Unlawful. Here’s What That Means. (Vox)

Texas Judge Says DACA is Illegal, Halts New Requests (Roll Call)

The Biden Administration Vows to Appeal A Federal Ruling Deeming DACA Unlawful (NPR)