American Flag with DACA Letters

Federal Judge Rules DACA is Unlawful

On July 16, 2021, a federal judge in Texas ruled that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is illegal and blocked the Biden administration from approving new applications. However, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) could continue to process renewals for current recipients for the time being. 

Created in 2012, the Obama-era program has provided undocumented immigrants—who entered the United States as children—with deportation protections and work authorization, so they can legally work and live in the country. The recent court decision affects more than 600,000 Dreamers who are currently protected under DACA. 

U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen found that DACA is unlawful because it violates federal rule-making law—specifically the Administrative Procedure Act—by failing to undergo the notice-and-comment process to adopt new rules. Originally brought by Texas and eight other states in May 2018, the lawsuit asked the court to end the program because it was unconstitutional, and states were forced to endure extra costs for providing Dreamers with services – even though ending the program would mean losing billions of dollars in those states.  

In 2017, the Trump administration tried to terminate DACA, but the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) blocked its attempt in June 2020. The difference between the June 2020 case and this most recent ruling is that the former case ruled that the former administration failed to take the proper legal steps to reverse the executive actions of a previous president, while the latter ruled DACA is unconstitutional because the program was created by executive action, instead of legislation through Congress. 

Shortly after Haden’s ruling, President Joe Biden and the Department of Justice (DOJ) promised to appeal the decision. Yet, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals is one of the most conservative federal courts of appeal, which means that if the Fifth Circuit upholds Haden’s decision and the SCOTUS declines to hear the case, then DACA will come to an end. 

The only hope for DACA is by passing legislation through Congress. Earlier this year, the American Dream and Promise Act passed the House. If passed by the Senate and signed into law, Dreamers and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) beneficiaries would have a legal pathway to citizenship. 

If you are interested in applying for DACA or renewing your protections in Illinois, Arizona, or Texas, contact Gambacorta Law today at (847) 443-9303 to let our firm help you!