Texas Federal Judge Andrew Hanen Declares DACA Unconstitutional: What Happens Now?
In July, Texas federal judge Andrew Hanen blocked the Obama-era program designed to protect undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children from deportation. This ruling halted DACA’s ability to accept new applicants — once again putting the lives of more than 600,000 people in limbo.
In a 77-page opinion, Judge Hanen wrote that DACA is unlawful because it violates the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) — an act that oversees federal rule making, by evading the standard “notice and comment” process when new rules were adopted.
Contact Attorney Eric Price today if you or a loved one is a DACA recipient and you’re feeling uncertain about your future with the latest ruling. Our philosophy is that every dream deserves a chance — and Price fights for his clients’ American Dreams every day. Contact us today at 855-662-2772 for a free case evaluation.
What Is DACA?
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, is a policy that protects about 800,000 young people called “dreamers.” These dreamers entered the U.S. unlawfully as children. While DACA does not grant them official legal status or a pathway to citizenship, it does allow them to apply for diver’s licenses, social security numbers, and work permits.
Estimates show that around 1.8 million people in the U.S. are eligible for DACA.
DACA protections are valid for two years, after which they can be renewed.
President Donald Trump repeatedly attempted to dismantle DACA, which President Barack Obama established in 2012. In December 2020, a federal judge ruled that first-time DACA applicants could apply — after the Trump administration stopped accepting new applications.
Understanding The New Ruling
As we mentioned, the basis of Judge Hanen’s ruling to block DACA is that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) when they created and continued DACA’s operations.
The judge did recognize that current DACA recipients are dependent on the program’s benefits, including advance parole to travel internationally, a work permit, and deportation deferral. On those grounds, he will allow current DACA enrollees to maintain and renew their benefits pending a future order from himself, the Supreme Court, or the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.
While the order will leave current DACA recipients’ status intact and allow renewals, it still puts the status of about 50,000 new DACA applicants up in the air.
The Department of Justice plans to appeal the court’s decision, and the ruling is reigniting calls from advocates of immigration to put new pressure on Congress and the president to come up with a permanent solution for all undocumented immigrants living in the United States.
“This ruling is wrong and will threaten the safety of tens of thousands of new DACA applicants who will no longer be able to pursue protected status. It must be overturned. The U.S. is the only home that Dreamers have ever known, and they should not be forced to live in fear of deportation,” said Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.).
Along with the humanitarian effects of the ruling, it will also impact the U.S. economy as it continues recovering from the pandemic’s financial devastation. If the DACA program were to end completely, an estimated 685,000 workers could be removed from the U.S.workforce. That would cost the economy about $460.3 billion over the next decade.
President Biden’s Response
DACA was created under the Obama administration — in which President Joe Biden served as V.P. As such; he has always been a strong proponent of the program. He issued an executive order on his second day in office calling on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of Justice (DOJ) to “preserve and fortify DACA.” But, Judge Hanen picked up the current lawsuit. He’s the same judge who issued a 2015 injunction to block DACA’s expansion and the expansion of its sister program, Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA).
Biden plans to appeal Judge Hanen’s ruling. In a statement, Biden called the ruling “deeply disappointing” and that it “relegates hundreds of thousands of young immigrants to an uncertain future.”
Biden also said in addition to the DOJ appealing the decision, the DHS plans to issue a proposed rule surrounding DACA “in the near future.”
What Happens Now?
An appeal of Judge Hanen’s decision is the next struggle in the ongoing DACA saga. The most promising avenue for DACA could likely be Congress, despite an ongoing filibuster. As the Senate gears up to push for a comprehensive second reconciliation package, many Democrats are suggesting that immigration reform, including a path to citizenship for Dreamers, will likely make the cut. The Biden administration and Congress hope to deliver a pathway to citizenship for millions of immigrants, from youth and farmworkers to Temporary Protected Status holders and essential workers. As Congress considers a “human infrastructure” package that includes an earned pathway to citizenship, millions of people could benefit from the program. The House and Senate must act to ensure the promise becomes a reality.
In his statement, Biden said it was his “fervent hope” that Congress will “finally provide security to all dreamers, who have lived too long in fear.”
If you are a DACA recipient or a new applicant, it’s important to find a skilled and experienced immigration attorney to help you navigate these uncertain times.
Contact Attorney Eric Price Today!
If you have any questions about the DACA program or the new ruling, Attorney Eric Price is here for you. Attorney Price is an expert “green card lawyer” and has fought hard for his clients for decades. Our firm is devoted to changing the lives of all immigrants in the United States by uniting families across the nation. We are bringing dignity to hardworking people whose lives, culture, and labor are strengthening America. Contact us today by Email or phone at 855-662-2772, and let’s get started building you a bright and secure future in the United States.