Federal judge rules DACA program unconstitutional, blocks approval of new recipients

Although President Joe Biden resurrected the program on his first day in office, a federal judge has once again placed Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals on ice.

The program, which offers protection from deportation for undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as minors, was deemed unconstitutional in a new court ruling and the Biden administration was blocked from approving new applications.

Details of the decision

According to the Washington Examiner, DACA protections are allowed to continue and recipient renewal applications can be granted for now, pending further court action.

Of course, the program has been subjected to court challenges since the Obama-era Department of Homeland Security created it in 2012.

For his part, former President Donald Trump subsequently attempted to end the protections, though he encountered setbacks in court along the way — including at the Supreme Court level.

Upon his inauguration earlier this year, Biden issued an executive order instructing the DHS to fully revive and even expand the program.

In a 77-page ruling on Friday, Judge Andrew Hanen determined that DACA protections were fundamentally unconstitutional. The judge, who was appointed by former President George W. Bush, had previously ruled against the program.

“That reliance has not diminished”

He made it clear that the DHS lacked the authority in 2012 to create the program and failed to properly abide by the processes laid out in the Administrative Procedures Act regarding rules for executive branch agencies.

Notably, the Trump administration was also found to have run afoul of APA guidelines in its attempt to rescind DACA, prompting federal courts to deny petitions that would formally end the program.

Hanen did acknowledge that “hundreds of thousands” of DACA recipients had already benefitted over the course of nearly a decade and “that reliance has not diminished and may, in fact, have increased over time.”

As a result, he decided to impose a temporary stay on his own ruling pending an inevitable appeal to a higher court.

DACA proponents have criticized the ruling and are calling on Congress to take immediate action to address the matter. That might soon happen via an unorthodox Democratic plan to insert immigration reform measures into a multitrillion-dollar budget proposal.

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