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Judge Rules DACA Is Unlawful and Suspends Applications

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Lawyers from the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund had urged the judge to refrain altogether from ruling, citing Mr. Biden’s directive to the Department of Homeland Security to create rules to fortify the program, and legislation introduced recently in Congress that would put Dreamers on a path to citizenship.

The state of Texas led the effort to terminate the program, along with Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, South Carolina and West Virginia. Officials in those states had argued that the program was improperly adopted and left them with the burden of paying for education, health care and other benefits for immigrants who remained in the country under DACA’s protections.

Currently, about 650,000 immigrants are enrolled in the program. Among them are some 200,000 frontline workers who have performed essential jobs in health care, agriculture, food processing and education, among others, during the coronavirus pandemic.

President Donald J. Trump announced a cancellation of the program in 2017 but several federal court rulings barred him from completely terminating it. Recipients were allowed to renew their DACA enrollment, a process that takes place every two years, even though new applications were not accepted.

With the embattled program’s future still up in the air, Texas and the other states in 2018 filed the current lawsuit calling for the program’s “immediate” rescission. Judge Hanen declined to issue a preliminary injunction, saying that the “egg had already been scrambled” and that “to try to put it back in the shell” did not serve the best interests of the country.

He warned, however, that Texas and the other states were likely to “prevail on the merits of their argument that DACA was unlawful.”

In June 2020, the Supreme Court ruled against the Trump administration’s decision to terminate the program, deeming its rescission in 2017 “arbitrary and capricious.” But the high court did not rule on whether the program had been legally adopted.

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