Judge Andrew Hanen declared that efforts to preserve and codify the Obama-era program into a federal regulation was unlawful.
September 13, 2023
A federal judge on Wednesday again ruled the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is unlawful, rejecting a revised version of the policy that has protected hundreds of thousands of young people from deportation.
Judge Andrew Hanen of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas declared that recent Biden administration efforts to preserve and codify the Obama-era program into a federal regulation were illegal. Hanen, who has ruled against DACA before, said in his ruling the program would be allowed to continue, for now, but that new applicants would still be barred from applying.
“While sympathetic to the predicament of DACA recipients and their families, this Court has expressed its concerns about the legality of the program for some time,” Hanen wrote. “The Executive Branch cannot usurp the power bestowed on Congress by the Constitution — even to fill a void.”
The Biden administration said in a statement on Wednesday night it was “deeply disappointed” by the ruling.
“During this Administration, hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients have been able to live and work lawfully in our country without fear of deportation,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre wrote. “As we have long maintained, we disagree with the District Court’s conclusion that DACA is unlawful, and will continue to defend this critical policy from legal challenges.”
The seven Republican-leaning states suing to end DACA argue the updated program was implemented unlawfully and amounted to an overreach of executive authority. They contend they continue to experience financial losses due to the presence of immigrants who were permitted to stay in the country without legal authorization.
The DACA program, established in 2012 by the Obama administration, protects certain young people brought to the United States illegally as children from deportation.
In 2021, Judge Hanen ruled that DACA was unlawful because it had not been created through the formal agency rulemaking process.
Last year, in response to ongoing legal challenges, the Biden administration took measures to solidify and safeguard the DACA program and its beneficiaries by releasing the final version of a rule aimed at codifying it.
The Biden administration will almost certainly appeal the decision and experts expect the case to reach the U.S. Supreme Court.