- Nearly 826,000 people currently benefit from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Act, DACA.
- A US District Judge in Texas ruled the program was illegal on Friday.
- Judge Andrew Hanen barred the US from approving any new applications for the program.
A Federal Judge in Texas ruled that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, better known as DACA, was unlawful and suspended the approval of any new applications.
US District Judge Andrew Hanen ruled in favor of Texas and eight other conservative states in barring the US from approving new DACA applicants and said former President Barack Obama overstepped his authority when he enacted the program, which protects nearly 826,000 young immigrants from deportation.
DACA was established in 2012 and allows Dreamers, or undocumented immigrants who were brought to the US as kids, to apply for work permits.
Hanen’s ruling does not cancel the permits for those who already have them.
“Nothing in this injunction should be read as ordering DHS or any other governmental entity to cancel or otherwise terminate DACA status for any individual who currently is, as of this date, a DACA recipient in good standing,” Hanen wrote.
The judge said the program was “created in violation of the law and whose existence violates the law.” He ruled that Congress had not given permission to the Department of Homeland Security to create the program and that DACA also prevents officials from removing people from the country as part of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
“Congress has not granted the Executive Branch free rein to grant lawful presence outside the ambit of the statutory scheme,” Hanen wrote in the ruling.
Omar Jadwat, head of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, told the CNBC ruling “is wrong and is subject to appeal.”
Democrats are calling for Congress to pass quick legislation on the program.
“As we await the swift stay that the law clearly requires, Democrats will continue to press for any and all paths to ensure that the Dream and Promise Act, now passed twice by the House, becomes the law of the land,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement. “Democrats call on Republicans in Congress to join us in respecting the will of the American people and the law, to ensure that Dreamers have a permanent path to citizenship,” Pelosi said, calling Dreamers the “pride of our nation.”
Julián Castro, former United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development during the Obama administration, called the decision a “gut-punch.”
“Dreamers have lived in uncertainty for far too long. It’s time Congress give them the protections they deserve. We must pass the budget reconciliation bill,” Castro said in a tweet.
President Joe Biden has previously said he supports allowing Dreamers to become citizens.
The White House and DHS did not respond to Insider’s request for comment at the time of publication.
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