Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was expansive. It was a cornerstone immigration initiative for his administration. It was also illegal. Created by executive order, the DACA program was a gross violation of separation of powers. The White House was re-writing immigration law unilaterally, an ongoing criticism of the order that spurred this legal battle. Now, a federal judge has ruled the program is unconstitutional but didn’t order that the program be scrapped immediately (via NYT):
JUST IN: A federal judge for the second time has declared The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program unlawful but did not order the deportation of the nearly 600,000 who remain in the country as “dreamers" https://t.co/u2aQZCDLic pic.twitter.com/fnPzCExR9P— The Hill (@thehill) September 13, 2023
A federal judge in Texas again ruled unlawful on Wednesday a program that has shielded hundreds of thousands of undocumented young adults from deportation and allowed them to legally work in the United States, rejecting a new rule that the Biden administration had introduced to address the court’s concerns.
The judge, Andrew S. Hanen of the Federal District Court in Houston, maintained that President Barack Obama exceeded his authority when he created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, by executive action in 2012.
The decision is the latest twist in a five-year-long court saga that has left the program and its beneficiaries, known as Dreamers, hanging in the balance. While the ruling is a blow to the immigrants, the judge did not mandate an immediate end to the program. Current applicants will be able to keep and renew their protection. No new applications will be allowed.
“There are no material differences between the two programs,” the judge wrote in his 40-page opinion, adding that his decision did not compel the government to “take any immigration, deportation or criminal action against any DACA recipient.”
JUST IN: A federal judge in Texas ruled Wednesday that a regulation intended to preserve the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program is unlawful, delivering a major blow to the Biden administration. https://t.co/b7pzi8rEKP— CNN (@CNN) September 13, 2023
BREAKING: A federal judge has declared illegal a revised version of the DACA program, which prevents the deportation of hundreds of thousands of immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. https://t.co/26wUJerdJu— The Associated Press (@AP) September 13, 2023
Here’s the judge’s FULL order rendering the Obama-Biden DACA policies illegal. pic.twitter.com/VNcA34lhyY— Nick Sortor (@nicksortor) September 13, 2023
BREAKING: A federal judge again declares the DACA immigration program unlawful, but allows it to continue. https://t.co/krO74X0rJA— CBS News (@CBSNews) September 13, 2023
It’s frustrating, though not unexpected. The program has been active for years. If there’s a rollback, it will be done gradually. And there will be appeals. For now, current applicants are safe. Protections for new applicants will not be afforded. It’s détente for now, which will not satisfy the program's detractors.
It's illegal but can still remain–that's essentially the takeaway.