On July 16, 2021, U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen ruled that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is unlawful, blocking the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from approving new applications. The Texas federal judge sided with Texas and other states in his decision that President Barack Obama exceeded his authority when he created the program.
What is DACA?
Created in 2012, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program provides undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children—also known as “Dreamers”—with deportation protection and labor authorization, allowing them to live and work in the country. There are currently an estimated 700,000 to 800,000 current DACA recipients in the U.S.
In 2017, the Trump administration tried to end DACA, but the Supreme Court blocked its attempt in June 2020 after ruling that President Trump failed to take the necessary administrative steps to properly repeal the Obama-era executive action because his administration never offered a reasonable explanation for its action.
However, the recent ruling by Judge Hanen addressed a different legal issue. While the 2000 Supreme Court case involved the power of one president to undo the executive action of a predecessor, while this recent case addressed if the creation of the program was constitutional in the first place.
The federal judge ruled that DACA is unconstitutional because President Obama created the program through executive action, rather than through legislation.
What Does the Recent Court Ruling Mean for Current Beneficiaries?
For now, current DACA recipients will retain the ability to stay and work in the United States.
What If I Recently Submitted a DACA Application for the First Time?
Although DHS may continue to accept new applications, they are temporarily prohibited from approving them. Unfortunately, your application has been placed on hold for the time being.
What Happens to DACA Next?
The next day after the ruling, President Joe Biden announced the Justice Department (DOJ) will appeal the decision. However, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals is known to be one of the country’s most conservative federal courts of appeals. So, if the Fifth Circuit upholds Judge Hanen’s ruling to terminate DACA and the Supreme Court declines to hear the case—which it does for most cases—then DACA will come to an end.
In the end, the only permanent solution for DACA is through Congress. So far, the Dream and Promise Act—which would give Dreamers a permanent pathway to citizenship—has been passed twice by the House of Representatives. Yet, the legislation would need at least 60 votes in the Senate (all 50 Democrats and at least 10 Republicans) to pass.
While the DHS is not currently approving applications, we can still help you sign up for DACA in hopes the program will continue in the future. If you are interested in applying for DACA or renewing your protections in Miami, contact Hubbs Law Firm today at (305) 376-7178 to let our experienced legal team help you!