A federal judge has ruled that a law meant to preserve the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is illegal in a major setback for the Biden administration.
Last year, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security introduced a rule to federally codify the policy, which began in 2012 under the Obama administration and has shielded from deportation and granted work authorization to roughly 600,000 illegal aliens brought to America as children.
U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen, who previously found DACA to be illegal in 2021, sided with Texas and eight other states who brought the most recent legal challenge to the program.
As explained in Hanen’s decision, the immigration law DACA sought to impose is unconstitutional unless it is enacted by lawmakers, rather than other branches of government.
“While sympathetic to the predicament of DACA recipients and their families, this Court has expressed its concerns about the legality of the program for some time,” Hanen wrote in his 40-page ruling. “The solution for these deficiencies lies with the legislature, not the executive or judicial branches. Congress, for any number of reasons, has decided not to pass DACA-like legislation. … The Executive Branch cannot usurp the power bestowed on Congress by the Constitution — even to fill a void.”
Hanen stopped short of ending the program, leaving it intact for existing recipients as the legal challenges wind their way through the courts. He also extended an injunction already in place that prevents the government from accepting new applications.
After the ruling, the White House released a statement saying it was “deeply disappointed” in the decision.
“During this administration, hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients have been able to live and work lawfully in our country without fear of deportation,” the statement reads. “As we have long maintained, we disagree with the District Court’s conclusion that DACA is unlawful, and will continue to defend this critical policy from legal challenges.”
The White House added, “We are committed to protecting all the Dreamers who have throughout their lives enriched our communities and our country, and we continue to call on Congress to provide permanent protection to the hundreds of thousands of Dreamers in the United States.”
Both Republicans and Democrats have expressed sympathy for illegal aliens brought to the U.S. as children, but have been unable to reach a bipartisan legislative solution.