A federal appeals court has largely upheld a district court ruling finding that the Obama era Deferred Action Program for Childhood Arrivals is illegal but sent the case back to the lower court to decide the legality of a new rule strengthening the program.
DACA, established in 2012, was intended to provide a temporary reprieve to undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children, a group often described as “dreamers”. Many of them are now adults.
There are more than 611,000 immigrants enrolled in the program, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Wednesday’s decision will not affect those currently enrolled in the program, but it will continue to block new applications.
Judge Andrew Hanen, of the Southern District of Texas, ruled in July 2021 that DACA was illegal and prevented the government from approving new applications for the program. Hanen’s order, however, allowed the program to continue for current enrollees while the case is being argued.
The Court of Appeal upheld the stay in its judgment on Wednesday.
“We also recognize that DACA has had profound meaning for grantees and many others in the ten years since its adoption. Given the “uncertainty of the final decision” and the “inevitable disruption that would arise from a lack of continuity and stability, we preserve the suspension of existing beneficiaries,” the decision reads.
The Biden Administration published a rule in August to “preserve and fortify” the DACA program, largely maintaining the program criteria. The federal appeals court acknowledged the new rule in its ruling, saying the lower court should review it.
“A district court is in the best position to review the administrative record in the rulemaking process and determine whether our 2012 DACA memorandum information fully resolves the issues regarding the final rule,” the decision reads.
Justice Department spokeswoman Dena Iverson said in a statement that the department “respectfully disagrees with the decision and will continue to vigorously defend the legality of DACA as it evolves.” progress of this case”.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said following the decision that he was “deeply disappointed” by the ruling.
“I am deeply disappointed with today’s DACA decision and the continued uncertainty it creates for families and communities across the country. We are currently reviewing the court’s decision and will work with the Department of Justice on an appropriate legal response,” he said in a statement, urging Congress to pass legislation “to provide permanent protection for the hundreds of thousands of Dreamers who call the United States home.”
Immigrant advocates have argued that it is up to Congress to provide protections for DACA recipients.
“The good news is that those currently with DACA will continue to live and work under the protection of the program. The bad news is that DACA is hanging by a thread,” Sergio Gonzales, executive director of the Immigration Hub, said in a statement.
“With the direction of the courts clear, the options for executive action limited, and a change in the makeup of Congress possible, we want to be crystal clear: the only realistic way to protect the 610,000 young people with CADD is for Congress to act in the end of the year,” he added.
Democrats and Republicans have been sympathetic to the hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children, many under the age of 10. reach a bipartisan compromise.
This story was updated with additional details on Wednesday.