Judge strikes down DACA program as illegal policy directive

The Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals executive action racked up its latest loss in court this week.

According to reports, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen of the Southern District of Texas ruled on Friday that the program was illegal in a move that the U.S. Supreme Court was not willing to take last year.

“Without any statutory authorization”

DACA provided undocumented immigrants under a certain age who entered the country as minors to stay in the U.S. and receive work authorizations. As a result, any deportation orders would be deferred, possibly on a permanent basis.

In subsequent years, more than 886,000 individuals have reportedly received the de facto amnesty — but Hanen determined that those exemptions to immigration law were unconstitutional.

When former President Donald Trump attempted to repeal DACA last year, the Supreme Court asserted that he did not pursue the court action in the right way and denied the motion.

At that time, Justice Clarence Thomas dissented, asserting: “DHS created DACA during the Obama administration without any statutory authorization and without going through the requisite rulemaking process. As a result, the program was unlawful from its inception.”

Hanen echoed that dissent in his ruling this week, writing that the DHS “failed to engage in the statutorily mandated process, so DACA never gained status as a legally binding policy that could impose duties or obligations.”

“Regardless of their mode of entry”

According to his decision, the Biden administration is barred from accepting any new DACA applications.

“Thus, all DACA applicants and recipients fall into a category for removal regardless of their mode of entry,” Hanen wrote. “The DACA Memorandum prevents immigration officials from enforcing these provisions of the [Immigration and Nationality Act].”

As for what should happen to existing DACA recipients, that question remains unanswered. Although the Biden administration is expected to appeal, Hanen’s defenders say his legal reasoning is rooted in an unbiased interpretation of the law.

For his part, President Joe Biden called the decision “deeply disappointing” and reiterated his desire to see DACA survive.

He is also hoping to advance other immigration reform measures by including them in a $3.5 trillion budget proposal for Congress to consider next year.

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