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Federal District Court Rules Against the DACA Program

2 min read
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Judge Andrew Hanen of the Federal District Court for the Southern District of Texas has given a permanent injunction against the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and order the vacatur of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) memorandum establishing the program. Also, the judge remanded the DACA memorandum to DHS for additional consideration to allow the agency to attempt to fix legal deficiencies. However, in recognition of the many thousands of foreign nationals as of now depending on the program. Judge Hanen temporarily stayed portions of his ruling with respect to existing DACA beneficiaries in good standing.

Judge Hanen determined that, in setting up the program, the Obama Government had exceeded its authority and had not followed procedural requirements. The case is the State of Texas v. the United States.

Impact on current DACA beneficiaries

With respect to existing DACA beneficiaries in good standing, the court has temporarily stayed the application of its order vacating the program. Until further order of the court, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, or the U.S. High Court. Existing beneficiaries hold their present deportation relief and employment authorization. What’s more, current DACA beneficiaries may continue to submit applications for renewal. And the Department of Homeland Security is not prohibited from adjudicating them. However, it is not yet clear how renewal applications will be treated in light of the court’s remand of the DACA memorandum for additional DHS thought. In the coming days, DHS is required to give further details about the effect of the decision on current beneficiaries.

Impact on foreign nationals seeking initial DACA benefits

The court request prohibits DHS from granting new or pending initial DACA applications. However, foreign nationals may continue to submit applications for new initial DACA benefits. Those applications can’t be approved by DHS except if the court order is changed or subject to a broader stay.

[August 2021 Visa Bulletin Predictions]

What’s next for the DACA program

The Biden Government is relied upon to appeal the court’s decision. A few bills to give permanent relief for Dreamers are pending in Congress, however, their prospects for passage are uncertain.

We are closely observing the DACA program and related legislation and will give updates as developments happen.

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