US Court of Appeals sends DACA case back to lower court to consider new rule

WASHINGTON, Oct 5 (Reuters) – A federal appeals court ruled on Wednesday that a program that protected hundreds of thousands of young immigrants from deportation was illegal, but said current enrollees could renew their status and sent the case back to a lower court to consider a new Biden administration settlement.

A three-judge panel of the conservative-leaning U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling against the program, called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), but referred the case in light of a new settlement issued in August. The new rule is intended to strengthen the program against legal challenges.

The decision is mixed for US President Joe Biden, a Democrat, who has said he wants a permanent path to citizenship for DACA recipients – often called “dreamers”.

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“Today’s decision is the result of continued efforts by Republican state officials to strip DACA recipients of the protections and work authorization that many have held for more than a decade,” Biden said. in a statement issued a few hours after the decision. “And while we will use the tools at our disposal to allow Dreamers to live and work in the only country they know as home, it is high time that Congress enact permanent protections for Dreamers, including a path to citizenship.

The court allowed the 594,000 current DACA registrants to retain their status, but continues to block new applications.

In dismissing the case, the 5th Circuit said it did not have enough information to rule on the new rules, which are expected to take effect Oct. 31, but the case should be resolved as soon as possible. possible.

The 46-page opinion signaled that judges were skeptical of the legality of DACA.

“‘In our view, the defendants have failed to demonstrate that there is a likelihood that they will prevail on the merits,’ they wrote.

Former President Barack Obama, a Democrat under whom Biden served as vice president, created DACA in 2012 after failed efforts by the US Congress to grant citizenship to immigrants brought to the country as children.

Texas and a coalition of states with Republican attorneys general in 2018 filed a lawsuit to end DACA, arguing that it had been implemented illegally. In July 2021, U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen in Texas sided with the states. Read more

Hanen’s ruling blocked the processing of new DACA claims, but pre-existing DACA recipients were allowed to continue receiving benefits and apply for renewal. Read more

The Biden administration appealed the decision, sending the case back to the 5th Circuit.

Individuals with DACA status can obtain work permits, a Social Security number, and in some states, receive driver’s licenses and financial assistance for education. Read more

DACA recipients have faced years of uncertainty and legal wrangling. Biden’s predecessor, former Republican President Donald Trump, tried to end the program but was blocked by the Supreme Court.

Wednesday’s opinion was written by an appointee of former President George W. Bush, a Republican, who was joined by two Trump appointees.

A Department of Justice spokesperson said the department “respectfully disagrees with the ruling and will continue to vigorously defend the legality of DACA as this matter progresses.” Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Biden entered office promising to work on a long-term solution for “Dreamers,” but Republicans and Democrats have found little common ground on immigration in recent years, making a legislative solution unlikely before the November 8 midterm elections.

DACA recipient Mario Lorenzana De Witt, a 27-year-old medical student in Syracuse, New York, said he was relieved to be able to continue renewing his DACA license.

“However, uncertainty remains and limbo persists,” he said. “We desperately need a pathway to citizenship.”

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Reporting by Ted Hesson in Washington; Additional reporting by Kristina Cooke in San Francisco and Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles Writing by Tim Ahmann Editing by Mica Rosenberg, Rosalba O’Brien, Matthew Lewis and Lincoln Feast.

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