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Court Rules Latest DACA Program Unlawful

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​A federal district judge in Texas has invalidated the Biden administration's attempt to codify the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program protecting some young immigrants from deportation. Current DACA beneficiaries can preserve and renew their employment authorization and deportation protection. No new applications for DACA benefits are permitted.

Judge Andrew Hanen of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas ruled Sept. 13 that the 2022 DACA final rule "suffers from the same legal impediments" as the earlier Obama administration memorandum that established the program in 2012. The program was established to protect undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children from deportation and allow them to work legally in the country. 

The Biden administration is expected to appeal the decision, and the case is likely to end up before the U.S. Supreme Court.

We've rounded up articles and resources from SHRM Online and other sources on the news.

Texas v. United States

The decision is the latest twist in a five-year-long court saga that has left the program and its beneficiaries hanging in the balance.

Texas led several other states in suing the federal government in 2018 to end the DACA program. Officials in those states had argued that the program was improperly adopted and left them with the burden of paying for education, health care and other benefits for immigrants who remained in the country under DACA's protections.

Hanen sided with Texas in 2021, barring the Biden administration from approving new DACA applications. In 2022, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit upheld Hanen's decision but sent the case back to the lower court to review the Biden administration's 2022 rulemaking.

In his latest opinion, Hanen said that the administration did not make much of an effort to differentiate the final rule substantively from the 2012 memo.

(The New York Times)

Biden’s DACA Rule

In 2021, Hanen concluded that the Obama administration circumvented procedural requirements when initially implementing the DACA program via agency memo, rather than going through the formal regulatory process. But the judge also questioned the administration's authority to implement the program at all, finding that only Congress has that authority. The Biden administration's proposed rule aimed to address the procedural concerns, while codifying existing policy.

(SHRM Online)

Supreme Court Preserves DACA

The fate of the program has reached the highest court in the land once already. In 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court saved the DACA program when it ruled that the Trump administration lacked a clear rationale for ending it. But the court did not rule on the legality of the creation of the program.

(SHRM Online)

The DACA Program Is Shrinking

More than 800,000 people have been covered by DACA at one time or another since the program's creation in 2012. But since the Trump administration's decision to terminate the program in 2017, DACA has been ensnared in litigation, locking out new entrants.

There were 579,000 active DACA holders as of March 2023, and with the program closed to new entrants, that figure is expected to decline.

(Migration Policy Institute)


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