A federal judge in Texas preserved the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program immediately claiming it would cause too much harm. However, District Judge Andrew Hanen also said that the six-year-old program is likely unlawful because it oversteps the authority of the executive branch. Hanen’s ruling gives the almost 700,000 DACA recipients additional time to request renewals, which would keep them in the United States legally for an additional two years. The DACA program protects recipients from deportation and grants them work permits in two-year stints.
A federal judge in Texas has ruled that Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) will stand in place for now.
Texas tried to gut #DACA.
Not gonna happen. pic.twitter.com/Zl5yROiPyI
— AG Josh Shapiro (@PAAttorneyGen) August 31, 2018
The ruling comes as a surprise since District Judge Andrew Hanen had ruled against DACA-related programs in the past. In 2015, Hanen ruled a companion program that would have granted temporary legal status to DACA parents, Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA), was illegal. This time around Hanen questioned the legality of DACA but argued that more harm would be done to DACA recipients if they lost the program.
This may only be a temporary reprieve for DACA recipients.
— CBS News (@CBSNews) September 1, 2018
Judge Hanen said that the plaintiffs are likely to succeed in their case that DACA is unlawful because it oversteps the authority of the executive branch. He said that DACA is a program that “Congress should consider saving” if it ever wants to permanently stay.
“Here, the egg has been scrambled. To try to put it back in the shell with only a preliminary injunction record, and perhaps at great risk to many, does not make sense nor serve the best interests of this country,” Hanen wrote in his ruling.
Many immigrants’ rights advocates are celebrating the order as it will help many DACA recipients.
Friday’s Texas court decision denying request to stop #DACA is a welcome victory for #Dreamers. We're pleased that #DACA stays in place for now & recipients can continue to renew. The fight continues to ensure that #Dreamers do not have to live in fear. https://t.co/GwcLRtnPLe
— ADL (@ADL_National) September 4, 2018
“Today DACA beneficiaries like myself and my little sister breathe a sigh of relief,” said Greisa Martinez, the deputy executive director of United We Dream told NPR NEWS. “But we aren’t out of the woods yet.”
The road still isn’t easy for DACA recipients who’ve faced constant lawsuits and federal orders against the program within the last year. The Trump administration has lead these efforts by seeking to end DACA, but have been blocked by federal courts in California, New York and Washington, D.C. Only existing DACA recipients can renew their status while those cases remain unresolved, but new applicants can’t join the program as of now.
The ruling coincidentally landed near the one year anniversary of President Trump’s order to end to the Obama-era program.
Today, one year after Trump killed #DACA, a program for hundreds of thousands of young immigrants, our community continues to fight to keep DACA renewals alive.
— United We Dream Action (@UNITEDWEDREAM) September 5, 2018
There are almost 700,000 DACA recipients in the United States since the Obama-era program began back in 2012. On September 5, 2017, President Trump ordered an end to the program urging Congress to pass a replacement and gave the program a six month deadline before he would begin phasing out protections. Federal judges blocked the administration from ending DACA before the six-month deadline. Instead, the courts ordered the administration to continue renewing any existing two-year permits.
“The past year has taken a wild ride on the DACA story,” Josh Blackman, a law professor at the South Texas College of Law Houston told CNN. “Everyone agrees that Congress should do this, there is no reason we should still be fighting about this in the courts.”