A federal judge in the state of Texas declared illegal the immigration policy that protects migrants who arrived in the United States without documents and as children. Although the decision tells the Government that it cannot accept new permits, it clarifies that the authorities do not have to deport the beneficiaries and that the current immigration protections can be renewed.
According to what was announced by Andrew Hanen, judge of the United States District Court, the government of then President Barack Obama did not follow federal administrative rules when launching the Deferred Action for Immigrants of Childhood Arrivals (DACA, for its acronym in English). Currently, this program has about 650,000 people enrolled, most of them are Hispanic.
The case began nearly seven months ago, when Hanen received the lawsuit spearheaded by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. Eight states supported the request: Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, South Carolina, and West Virginia.
And now, the federal judge in Texas and who was appointed by then-President George W. Bush in January 2002, agreed with them. The ruling establishes that the states demonstrated “the difficulties that the continued operation of DACA has caused them.” He added that “the government has no legitimate interest in the continuation of an illegally implemented program.”
In the findings of the ruling, Hanen asserted that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) violated an administrative law with the creation of DACA and its continued operation. In his brief, he ruled that Congress had not given DHS the authority to create DACA and that it was preventing immigration officials from enforcing the deportation provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
“Congress has not given the Executive free rein to grant legal presence outside the scope of the legal scheme,” Hanen wrote.
As for the new applications, Hanen said the government could continue to receive new applications for the program, as ordered by a federal judge in a separate case, but could not approve them.
Despite this, Hanen recognized the DACA program as part of the current American fabric and notes that his decision does not require the Joe Biden administration to take “deportation or criminal action against the beneficiaries.”
Therefore, it will allow the current immigration protections to be renewed, which give a temporary residence and work permit to the beneficiaries.
“Hundreds of thousands of individual DACA recipients, along with their employers, states, and loved ones, have come to depend on the DACA program (…) Given these interests, it is not fair that a government program, which has generated such significant dependency, terminate suddenly, “said the judge.
The DACA program was established in 2012 by the then president of the United States, Barack Obama, to protect thousands of young immigrants who arrived in the United States illegally before reaching the age of 16.
In December 2020, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (Uscis) reported that the beneficiaries of this program are nationals of about 195 countries. Among its benefits, the plan offers work authorization and avoids deportation, although it is not the method of obtaining citizenship.
Congress is under pressure to save the DACA program
Since its inception, the program has faced a number of challenges, the most recent of which occurred during Donald Trump’s tenure. The then president tried several times to end DACA, but the Justice always ruled in favor of the program.
Since his presidential campaign, Trump promised that he would gradually end the program and, to do this, his administration appealed the decisions of federal judges in California, New York and Washington that forced him to continue receiving applications in DACA.
That is how the discussion reached the US Supreme Court and once again the Justice backed the program for migrants. In 2020, the highest court ruled that the Trump administration had not properly terminated the program.
In the midst of these legal situations, Congress becomes the body capable of providing a permanent solution to DACA recipients through the establishment of legislation, a response that for years has been stagnant.
Democrat Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives, reacted to the measure of the judge in Texas and indicated that her party will continue to pressure and seek alternatives for the passage of the ‘Dream’ law. And is that DACA recipients are popularly known as “dreamers.”
“While we await the speedy suspension that the law clearly requires, Democrats will continue to push each and every avenue to ensure that the Dreams and Promises Act, now passed twice by the House, becomes the law of the land ( …) Democrats call on Republicans in Congress to join us in respecting the will of the American people and the law that guarantees ‘Dreamers’ have a permanent path to citizenship, ”said Pelosi.
Today’s wrongly-decided ruling brazenly flouts the law & precedent, as it casts a cloud of fear & uncertainty around #Dreamers, who are a pride of our nation. Democrats will continue to press for any & all paths to ensure that the Dream & Promise Act becomes the law of the land.
– Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) July 17, 2021
In March, the House of Representatives passed legislation that paves the way for Dreamers to establish citizenship, but this has stalled in the Senate.
US President Joe Biden, who since his first day in office has ordered the Secretary of Homeland Security to take appropriate action to protect the DACA program, has also enacted legislation that allows citizenship to be granted to at least 11 million people. people living in the country without permission.
Civil rights organizations and the Government of Mexico reacted to the judicial decision
It is worth noting that Judge Hanen denied the request to the program’s defenders, led by the Mexican American Fund for Education and Legal Defense (Maldef), which represents immigrants in this case. This group, in conjunction with the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office, notes that the Obama administration had authority and that states lacked standing to sue because they had suffered no harm from the program.
Thomas Sáenz, president of Maldef, indicated that those affected by the decision will file an appeal.
“Today’s decision emphasizes once again how critically important it is for Congress to step forward to reflect the will of the vast majority of citizens and voters in this country. That will is that the DACA beneficiaries, and other young immigrants in a similar situation, receive a legislative action that grants them a path towards permanence and citizenship in our country, ”said Sáenz.
For his part, Todd Schulte, president of the pressure group in favor of immigration ‘FWD.us’, expressed displeasure at the court decision and said that the “DACA program has been a success that has transformed many lives.”
“Today he makes it absolutely clear: Only a permanent legislative solution passed by Congress will remove the fear and uncertainty that DACA recipients have been forced to live with for years. We call on each and every elected official to do everything in their power so that DACA recipients, their families and communities, can live free from fear and continue to build their lives here, ”said Schulte.
For its part, the American Civil Liberties Union stated that DACA should be protected. “The future of the dreamers should not be in the hands of the courts,” the group wrote on its Twitter account.
Today, a judge blocked new applications to the DACA program and placed the future of the program in jeopardy.
Dreamers’ futures shouldn’t be in the hands of the courts.
– ACLU (@ACLU) July 16, 2021
The decision had reactions in the Government of Mexico that was pronounced through an official of the Ministry of Foreign Relations. “The Mexican government regrets the decision of a US judge that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program violated US law when it was created (…) Mexico would continue to provide consular protection and assistance to Mexican DACA recipients ”Said Roberto Velasco, head of the North America Unit of the Ministry of Foreign Relations, through Twitter.
– Roberto Velasco Álvarez (@r_velascoa) July 16, 2021
According to the US media ‘NBC News’, which cites figures from the US government, more than 90% of DACA participants have a job and half are in school. Additionally, the publication adds, many do not speak the language of their country of origin or have an in-depth knowledge of the culture of those nations.
With EFE, Reuters and AP