Texas is leading a seven-state coalition claiming that former President Barack Obama exceeded the authority of his office when he issued the executive order creating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in 2012. This comes after Texas officials promised to take legal action against the polarizing immigration program.
DACA grants immigrants who entered the country as children(colloquially known as DREAMers, after the DREAM Act, a similar but failed immigration law) relief from deportation, allowing them to apply for temporary work permits and driver’s licenses every two years. It is estimated that there are at least 125,000 DACA recipients reside in Texas alone.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a lawsuit in federal court, seeking an injunction to prevent the government from further issuing or renewing permits under the immigration program. He is joined by the attorneys general of other Republican-controlled states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina, and West Virginia.
In the complaint, Paxton claimed the lawsuit is ultimately about restoring the rule of law, arguing that any changes to immigration laws fall within the purview of Congress, not the Executive Branch. Paxton further pointed out that for years, Texas has argued that the federal executive branch does not have the power to unilaterally grant lawful status, let alone work authorization, to undocumented immigrants.
The fact that Texas is leading this most recent charge against DACA is hardly surprising.
In 2014, Texas led a coalition opposing the Obama administration’s move to expand the eligibility of DACA and create a new sister program, the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA), which would have protected parents of U.S citizens and legal permanent residents from deportation.
The Fifth Circuit agreed that Obama’s creation of DAPA was a violation of the separation of powers, to which the Supreme Court deadlocked 4-4, upholding the Fifth Circuit’s injunction.
Texas, however, did not challenge the legality of DACA—until now.
According to the complaint, “DACA is unlawful for the same reasons as DAPA and Expanded DACA were unlawful. Left intact, DACA sets a dangerous precedent by giving the executive branch sweeping authority to ignore the laws enacted by Congress and change our nation’s immigration laws to suit a president’s own policy preferences.”
Paxton is also suing Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and other heads of different immigration enforcement agencies, including Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
For now, all that’s keeping DACA in place are three separate rulings forcing the federal government to allow DACA enrollees to renew their status.
Judges from the Second and Ninth Circuit ruled that the Trump Administration’s cancellation of DACA was “arbitrary and capricious.” On April 24, Judge John D. Bates of the D.C. Circuit found that the Administration failed to adequately explain the legal basis for scrapping DACA, ordering the government to accept new DACA enrollees if it failed to come up with a better legal argument after 90 days.
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) 215-5225to schedule a consultation with Austin immigration attorney DaniellaLyttle.