FederalImmigration & BorderIssuesSouth Texas Federal Judge Blocks New Applications for Obama-Era DACA Program

President Biden criticized the decision and said the federal government “intends to appeal this decision in order to preserve and fortify DACA.”
July 21, 2021
The State of Texas claimed victory in a federal courtroom last week when Judge Andrew Hanen granted a permanent injunction in the state’s favor preventing the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from granting new applications for protection under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) memorandum.

Published on June 15, 2012, by then-Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, the memo granted temporary protection from deportation two years at a time for illegal aliens whose parents or some other adult brought them into the country when they were under 16 years old. Only those who meet certain educational or military requirements and who have clean records are able to participate in the program.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which is in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, included the states of Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, South Carolina, and West Virginia. Hanen stayed the ruling for people currently protected by DACA, so DHS is allowed to renew their statuses.

However, DHS cannot admit new individuals to the program “until a further order of this Court, the Fifth Court of Appeals, or the United States Supreme Court.”

In a statement published by the White House, President Biden said DACA “has allowed hundreds of thousands of young immigrants to remain in the United States, to live, study, and work in our communities” and called the ruling “deeply disappointing.”

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“While the court’s order does not now affect current DACA recipients, this decision nonetheless relegates hundreds of thousands of young immigrants to an uncertain future,” Biden said. “The Department of Justice intends to appeal this decision in order to preserve and fortify DACA. And, as the court recognized, the Department of Homeland Security plans to issue a proposed rule concerning DACA in the near future.”

The president went on to advocate for federal legislation to create a permanent solution for individuals who are in the U.S. illegally but who came to the country as children.

The federal judge could not be certain how many individuals are affected by the Obama-era memo. In court documents, Hanen said that as many as 1.9 million individuals could be impacted by the DACA program, though he chose the “midrange” number of about 1.5 million people in view of the varying estimates available to him from the parties to the case and other sources.

Hanen ended the program on the grounds that it runs afoul of the Administrative Procedures Act and impinges the role of the Legislative Branch of the federal government. The judge also harkened back to a U.S. Supreme Court decision from last year that prevented the Trump administration from canceling DACA.

“While this controversial issue may ultimately return to the Supreme Court, the battle Justice [Clarence] Thomas predicted currently resides here and it is not one this Court can avoid,” Hanen wrote.

The day before Biden’s official statement, U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX-20) called the permanent injunction a “terrible decision.”

“The dreams of hundreds of thousands of young people who are contributing to the American economy will be put on hold for no good reason,” Castro tweeted. “Congress must pass a pathway to citizenship this year. We can’t wait.”

Aside from the legal justification for ending the program, opponents of measures that seem to grant sweeping exceptions to the enforcement of immigration laws are concerned about incentivizing illegal immigration.

In the southwestern region of the country, there were a staggering 189,000 enforcement encounters with illegal aliens in June, according to the most recent update by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. That included more than 50,000 family unit apprehensions and 15,000 unaccompanied minor apprehensions.

A copy of the order of permanent injunction can be found below.


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Hayden Sparks

Hayden Sparks is a senior reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of the Lone Star State. He has coached competitive speech and debate and has been involved in politics since a young age. One of Hayden's favorite quotes is by Sam Houston: "Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may."