A federal judge has ruled against Texas state’s motion to put an immediate end to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, a move that took the state six years to bring to court. DACA is an Obama-era immigration program that protects undocumented immigrants brought into the US as minors from deportation. Through DACA, these young immigrants can apply for special work permits that allow them to legally work in the country, renewable every two years.
Texas had led a coalition composed of eight other Republican-controlled states and the Republican governors of Maine and Mississippi in suing the federal government, filing a case to permanently end the DACA program in May this year.
US District Judge Andrew Hanen presided over the case and agreed with the petitioners on a number of points. First, he agreed that immigrants under DACA may be taking jobs that would have gone to US citizens, and that the state would have to cover for their public school education and emergency medical services.
Hanen also agreed that the Obama administration went against federal law when it went ahead with the program and provided protection to over 1 million immigrants “for whom Congress has made no provision.”
Hanen, however, also asserted that he cannot issue a preliminary injunction on the program because Texas took too long after DACA’s implementation to sue, disabling them from demonstrating irreparable harm that a preliminary injunction requires.
Hanen also pointed out that, in order to qualify for DACA, an immigrant must have been in the country since 2012, was below the age of 16 when they arrived, and be under 31 as of June 15, 2012. The stagnancy of the population of DACA recipients, Hanen states, hurts Texas’ case.
“Since that finite population is not growing … this court does not consider the possibility of new applicants or renewals an emergent situation demanding injunctive relief,” Hanen wrote.
The states had planned to file their suit before the conservative appointee, who, in 2016, had ruled to strike down the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA), another Obama-era immigration program that was unsuccessful in granting protections to immigrant parents with children who are U.S. citizens.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton nonetheless remains confident that they will be able to terminate the DACA program in future efforts. President Trump announced in 2017 that he would be working on getting rid of DACA on the premise that Obama overstepped his executive authority by implementing a program without legislative backing.
If you, or a loved one, are under DACA status and want to discuss your legal options should the worst happen, don’t hesitate to schedule a consultation with the legal team of the Lyttle Law Firm. Contact our offices at (512) 215-5225 to schedule a consultation with Austin immigration attorney Daniella Lyttle.