July 18, 2024

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A federal judge’s renewed ‘DACA is illegal’ sparks Supreme Court involvement.

A federal judge recently ruled against a revised version of the federal policy protecting immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children, declaring it illegal. U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen sided with nine states, including Texas, in their bid to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

This ruling is likely to face Supreme Court challenges, where DACA’s fate was previously decided. Judge Hanen’s decision bars new DACA applications but allows the programme to continue for current recipients during appeals. He clarified that his order doesn’t require action against existing DACA recipients.

The states argued that the Obama administration lacked authority to create DACA in 2012 without congressional approval. In 2021, Judge Hanen ruled DACA illegal due to insufficient adherence to federal Administrative Procedures Act requirements.

The Biden administration introduced a new DACA version in October 2022, addressing concerns through public comments and formal rule-making. Judge Hanen, appointed by President George W. Bush in 2002, still found it illegal, asserting DACA’s unconstitutionality and urging congressional protection for “Dreamers.”

Judge Hanen allowed the states to sue, claiming financial burdens in healthcare and education due to immigrants staying illegally. The suing states include Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina, West Virginia, Kansas, and Mississippi. Programme defenders, including the federal government, argued the states didn’t prove costs directly tied to DACA recipients and that Homeland Security holds immigration policy authority.

Despite earlier findings, Judge Hanen maintained DACA for existing recipients but blocked new applications. As of March, 578,680 people were enrolled in DACA.

DACA faced prior legal challenges. In 2016, a split Supreme Court outcome affected expanded DACA and parental versions. In 2020, the Court ruled 5-4 against Trump’s termination, preserving DACA. In 2022, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court upheld Hanen’s DACA illegality ruling, remanding for review of Biden administration changes.

Advocacy groups and President Biden urge Congress to protect “dreamers,” but legislative proposals like the DREAM Act have repeatedly failed.