On Wednesday, Judge Andrew Hanen of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas ruled that the Biden Administration could not codify the DACA policy into a federal regulation, but stopped short of ordering the repeal of deportation protections and work permits for over half a million immigrant "Dreamers."
"Congress's alleged failure to pass, or, stated differently, its decision not to enact legislation, does not empower the Executive Branch to 'legislate on its own — specially when that "legislation" is contrary to actual existing legislation," Hanen wrote. "The Executive Branch cannot usurp the power bestowed on Congress by the Constitution — even to fill a void."
Federal Judges Declares DACA Program Unlawful
DACA has allowed those ages 16 and under who entered the U.S. before June 2007 to live and work in the country without fear of deportation, so long as they do not have a serious criminal record, and either graduate from a U.S. high school or serve in the military. As of March, 2023, there were 578,680 immigrants enrolled in DACA according to government data.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement that Hanen's legal interpretation was misguided, and that the ruling ripped away "the security and stability of more than half a million Dreamers who have contributed to our communities."
"As the Secretary of Homeland Security who promulgated a final rule to preserve and fortify DACA last year, and as the former Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) who, in 2012, led the development and implementation of DACA, I am deeply disappointed by the ruling and uniquely qualified to say that DHS believes DACA is lawful and Constitutional," Mayorkas said.
The Biden Administration is expected to appeal the ruling, and the case is likely to escalate to the Supreme Court. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said that they will "continue to defend this critical policy from legal challenges."
"We are committed to protecting all the Dreamers who have throughout their lives enriched our communities and our country, and we continue to call on Congress to provide permanent protection to the hundreds of thousands of Dreamers in the United States," she said in a statement.
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