Biden administration appeals Texas court ruling finding DACA unlawful
On September 10, 2021, the Biden Administration appealed a Texas court ruling by U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen that found the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program unlawful. While the Texas ruling does not automatically cancel current permits for Dreamers, it does block the government from approving all new DACA applications.
The DACA program is an Obama-era initiative that has allowed undocumented foreign nationals who came to the U.S. as children to stay in the country and work legally. The policy is estimated to protect up to 800,000 people, known as “Dreamers,” from deportation. The DACA program does not grant Dreamers an official legal status or pathway to citizenship, but it does allow them to continue to apply for protection under the program and obtain certain benefits, such as the ability to apply for a driver’s license, social security number, and work authorization.
In July, Judge Hanen ruled that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had not been granted authority by Congress to create the DACA program, thereby violating the Administrative Procedures Act. He also found that the program prevented immigration officials from enforcing removal provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Accordingly, Judge Hanen’s decision has blocked the government from approving all subsequent DACA program applications and left in limbo over 50,000 people who had applied for the program but have not yet been approved.
Now that a notice to appeal the Texas court ruling has been filed, the appeals process will commence in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit – which is known to be the country’s most conservative appeals court. In the meantime, USCIS has confirmed that all individuals whose DACA requests were approved prior to July 16, 2021 will continue to have DACA status and all DACA requests that were approved before July 16, 2021 will continue to be eligible to renew DACA and DACA work permits. DHS will also continue to accept the filing of initial DACA applications but may not approve such applications due to Judge Hanen’s ruling.
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