A federal appeals court on Wednesday granted a deferment to hundreds of thousands of young immigrants enrolled in a program that will allow them to work and study in the U.S. without fear of deportation, but it’s unclear how long this will last. to last.
The ruling of the US 5th Circuit Court of Appeals leads the lower court judge who ruled that the decade-old deferred action program for child arrivals was illegal to allow for a new rule issued by the Biden administration. It let the program continue, but only for current DACA recipients known as Dreamers, not for new applicants.
The rule review could keep DACA for at least several more months, but its future is far from assured, especially given the current, more conservative composition of the Supreme Court.
A Justice Department spokesperson said in a statement that the agency “respectfully disagrees with the decision and will continue to vigorously defend the legality of DACA as this case progresses.”
The Biden administration is preparing contingencies in case the courts halt the program. People near the White House have told NBC News that President Joe Biden was preparing an executive order to lead immigration and customs enforcement to prioritize removal of DACA recipients and waive deportation if they are not considered threats to public safety or national security. However, that action is temporary and can be undone by another president.
In August, the government also announced a new rule, which will take effect October 31, to codify DACA and address some of the concerns raised by the Supreme Court about the program. The rule is what the appeals court ordered a Texas federal judge to review.
Rep. Raul Ruiz, D-Calif., the head of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said in a statement Wednesday that DACA recipients “can breathe a sigh of relief,” but added that “the urgency remains to get a to adopt a permanent solution that brings stability to the lives of DACA receivers.”
President Barack Obama established DACA by executive order in 2012 out of frustration at Congress’ lack of action on immigration reform. The program created a way for young migrants brought to the US as children, often referred to as Dreamers based on never-passed legislation in Congress called the DREAM Act, to study and work without fear of being deported. to become.
But President Donald Trump, who had sometimes greeted such young people despite campaign promises to tackle illegal immigration, announced in September 2017 that he was shutting down the program, calling for a permanent version of the program as part of an “extensive” program. immigration review. “Congress, get ready to do your job – DACA!” he tweeted.
Congress failed to reach a deal and proponents of the program filed a lawsuit to block its termination.
In June 2020, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the lawyers in a 5-4 ruling. The swing vote, Chief Justice John Roberts, sided with the liberal judges and found that the Trump administration had broken federal agency laws when it ended DACA in 2017, because the memorandum recommending ending it did not related to crucial parts of the policy. Roberts pointed out toward the end of his advisory that DHS could simply revise its legal strategy to resolve DACA going forward.
Meanwhile, Texas, where more than 100,000 people are enrolled in the DACA program, persevered with a lawsuit it filed in 2018, backed by other Republican-led states, alleging the program is illegal. Texas also claimed the program is harmful because it allows DACA recipients to compete with citizens for jobs and leaves the state on the hook for some health, education and social services costs.
Immigration proponents objected that states have not provided enough evidence about what those costs are and that states should pay them anyway. The states also failed to consider how “DACA recipients living in the states offset the additional revenue the states receive from their taxes and contributions to the public (including through their work as health professions, educators, and other service jobs) “, the advocates Submit said.
In its July 2021 make a statement, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen of Houston ruled on the side of the states, finding that DHS did not have the authority to implement DACA and that the program was illegal. He suspended parts of his decision pending appeal, which allowed DHS to process DACA renewal applications but prevented the approval of new applicants.
Hanen noted in his statement that the DACA recipients had generated public sympathy.
“Many came to this country illegally or stayed in this country without permission through no fault of their own,” he wrote. “Further, according to many of the amicus briefings, the DACA population is generally well-educated and better placed to contribute to the well-being of this nation than other immigrant populations. As a group, they obey the law and hold positions of responsibility despite their youth. These factors make the DACA population a much more attractive and sympathetic group. While these may be compelling policy reasons for DACA, they cannot affect this court’s legal conclusion.
“As popular as this program is, the right starting point for the DACA program has been and is Congress,” Hanen added.
Following the appeals court ruling, advocates such as Sergio Gonzales urged Congress to take immediate action.
“With the direction of the courts clear, options for executive action limited, and a change in Congressional composition possible, we want to be crystal clear: The only realistic way to protect the 610,000 young people with DACA is for Congress to act through the end of the year,” Gonzales, the executive director of the Immigration Hub, said in a statement.
“All sane Republicans still in Congress should return to the pragmatism of past GOP leaders like John McCain and do what is in the best interest of the country,” he said.