The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which protects the children of illegal immigrants from deportation, is illegal, a federal judge has ruled.
Judge Andrew Hanen of the Southern District of Texas issued the ruling, according to CNN.
“Litigation revolving around the legality of DACA, in one form or another, has existed for nearly a decade,” he wrote.
“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. The solution for these deficiencies lies with the legislature, not the executive or judicial branches,” Hanen wrote.
Hanen wrote that there were no “material differences” between the Obama-era policy and the Biden administration’s rule hoping to keep DACA alive as a regulation, according to CBS.
“As such, the Final Rule suffers from the same legal impediments,” he wrote.
“Congress’s alleged failure to pass, or, stated differently, its decision not to enact legislation, does not empower the Executive Branch to ‘legislate’ on its own — especially when that ‘legislation’ is contrary to actual existing legislation,” Hanen wrote, adding, “The Executive Branch cannot usurp the power bestowed on Congress by the Constitution — even to fill a void.”
DACA and Hanen have a history. Just as he did Wednesday, the appointee of former President George W. Bush ruled in 2021 that the program violated the federal Administrative Procedures Act, according to the Associated Press.
After that ruling, the Biden administration tried to give the program a few tweaks, rolling out a new version in October.
However, multiple states sued, leading to Wednesday’s ruling.
Hanen said Wednesday his order would not impact those enrolled in the program.
“The Court, as it did before, hereby stays the effective date of the vacatur as to all DACA recipients who received their initial DACA status prior to July 16, 2021. The defendants may continue to administer the program as to those individuals, and that administration may include processing and granting DACA renewal applications for those individuals,” Hanen wrote Wednesday, according to ABC.
“To be clear, neither this order nor the accompanying supplemental injunction requires the (Department of Homeland Security) or the Department of Justice to take any immigration, deportation, or criminal action against any DACA recipient, applicant, or any other individual that would otherwise not be taken,” Hanen wrote, according to CNN.
An appeal to the ruling is expected, with the case likely to reach the Supreme Court.
As noted by AP, the program has an extensive and complex court history. In 2016, the Supreme Court had a 4-4 vote on an expanded version of the program and a similar program for parents a lower court had ruled was illegal. In 2020, the Trump administration’s plan to end DACA was tossed out by the Supreme Court, saying the administration acted improperly.
In 2022, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Hanna’s 2021 ruling against DACA, but sent the case back for review due to the changes the Biden administration had made.