Federal judge rules DACA programme for childhood undocumented ‘Dreamers’ is illegal

Ruling likely to be appealed to US Supreme Court, which would rule on program for third time

Graeme Massie
Los Angeles
Thursday 14 September 2023 02:21 BST
Related video: Nancy Pelosi says majority of America and Republicans support protecting DREAMers

A federal judge in Texas has again ruled that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals programme, which protects undocumented immigrants who were brought to the US as youngsters, is illegal.

Judge Andrew Hanen, of the Southern District of Texas, ruled that DACA violated the Administrative Procedure Act, which sets out how agencies make regulations.

The ruling does not impact anyone currently protected under DACA, but the judge banned the government from approving anyone else for it.

“To be clear, neither this order nor the accompanying supplemental injunction requires the (Department of Homeland Security) or the Department of Justice to take any immigration, deportation, or criminal action against any DACA recipient, applicant, or any other individual that would otherwise not be taken,” Judge Hanen wrote.

Texas and eight other states had sued to end the Obama-era DACA programme and the ruling is now expected to be appealed to the US Supreme Court for a third time.

The states argued that the Obama administration circumvented Congress and did not have the authority to create DACA in 2012.

The states, which are Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina, West Virginia, Kansas and Mississippi, have claimed DACA costs them hundreds of millions of dollars in health care and other expenses.

DACA, which allows Dreamers to live and work in the US, was defended in the case by the federal government, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the state of New Jersey. They argued the states had shown no evidence the alleged costs were caused by Dreamers.

Defenders of the program said they would fight to protect it.

“This decision is not the final word on DACA,” said Blanca Gamez, a DACA recipient and staff member at the American Civil Liberties Union. “The United States is our home, and no court decision can change that. This ruling is wrong on the law, but sends a clear message: Congress must act to provide permanent protections and a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers and the millions of other undocumented residents who call this nation home.”

Faisal Al-Juburi, spokesperson for RAICES said: “We’ve said this before, and we’ll repeat it: Relying on the courts to protect DACA is not a viable strategy to protect our communities from deportation. Congress and the Biden administration must create a pathway to citizenship for all undocumented people in the U.S. The time for waiting is over.”

Immigration officials say that there were 578,680 people enrolled in DACA at the end of March.

The judge previously ruled DACA illegal in 2021, stating that it had not been subject to public notice and comment periods required under the federal Administrative Procedures Act.

In 2016, the Supreme Court deadlocked 4-4 over an expanded DACA and a version of the programme for parents of DACA recipients.

In 2020, the court ruled 5-4 that the Trump administration improperly ended DACA, allowing it to stay in place.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in