Courts Immigration On the Hill

Biden Administration Appeals Ruling that Found DACA Illegal

The Biden administration appealed a federal district court ruling on Friday that declared the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program illegal and blocked new applicants from receiving the program’s benefits.

The appeal challenges a ruling made by Texas federal district Judge Andrew Hanen in July. Judge Hanen ruled that DACA was unlawful because it violated the Administrative Procedures Act, a measure that regulates how federal agencies can create policies. While the decision keeps DACA intact for current program recipients, it blocks new DACA applications from being approved. Over 55,000 new applicants who applied for the DACA program last year but had their application status pending due to a backlog can now no longer be approved for the program.

President Biden vowed after the district court’s ruling in July that he would appeal the decision. The Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund has appealed Judge Hanen’s ruling as well. The case will now be taken to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which is known for its conservative rulings.  

“With DACA, the Department of Homeland Security uses the discretion granted by Congress to give DREAMers, who are low priorities for removal, an opportunity to live and work in the U.S. until there is a more permanent solution to their situation,” said Nina Perales, vice president of litigation for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund in a statement. “For this reason, DACA is an important part of the immigration system and should be upheld as lawful.”

The DACA program was created in 2012 by an executive order from President Obama. It currently protects over 600,000 people who were brought to the U.S. as children, who have no concrete pathway to citizenship, from being deported. The program was meant to be a temporary means to allow such immigrants to live and work in the U.S. until Congress could implement permanent legislation to help them obtain citizenship. Congress has yet to pass legislation that would create a pathway to citizenship for undocumented Dreamers.

“The ongoing failure of the Congress to act to provide permanent protections and a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients necessitates the filing of this appeal to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals,” said Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund.

“There are strong legal grounds for a successful appeal because Judge Hanen failed to account for recent changes in the law governing several critical elements of the case. We look forward to a successful appeal on behalf of our courageous clients, even as we urge Congress to act to prevent the necessity of this appeal.”

Sources: CNN 9/10/21; Feminist Newswire 7/20/21; The Hill 9/10/21; Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund 9/10/21

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