A federal judge in Texas issued an order Friday blocking President Joe Biden’s administration from approving new applications for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The order does not affect current beneficiaries of the program.
U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen argued that the DACA program, which the Obama administration established in 2012, is illegal because the administration did not have the legal authority to provide deportation relief and other benefits to undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children.
The Department of Homeland Security “violated the [Administrative Procedure Act] with the creation of DACA and its continued operation,” Hanen wrote in the order. “The DACA memorandum and the DACA program it created are hereby vacated and remanded to the DHS for further consideration.”
Although the program is legally void, it will be sent to the Department of Homeland Security for consideration, but the order does not affect the statuses of people currently enrolled in the DACA program. These individuals are allowed to keep their deportation and work protections until a further court ruling is ordered and states otherwise.
There are more than 600,000 DACA beneficiaries nationwide, according to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.
While people can still submit DACA applications, the order bars the Biden administration from approving those new applications.
Hanen’s order comes as Republican officials and other states have sued and called for an “orderly wind down” of the DACA program. They have deemed it unlawful and said it burdens states with costs related to health care, education and law enforcement.
The judge’s ruling also comes a day after Biden released a statement on DACA, pushing Congress to pass the president’s U.S. Citizenship Act or other “legislative solutions” to create a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants in this country.
“I will continue to work towards passage of legislation protecting Dreamers and creating a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants,” Biden wrote in the statement. “These young people represent the best of America and we can’t let them down.”
In March, the House of Representatives passed the American Dream and Promise Act, which would provide “Dreamers,” or DACA beneficiaries, and Temporary Protected Status holders certain protections and paths to citizenship.