U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen ruled in favor of a group of states that sued to end DACA. Now, President Biden is fighting back. Here are the facts.
DACA Under Scrutiny
A cohort of anti-DACA leaders led by Republican Governor Greg Abbott sued to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). To them, the program represents an un-American stance on immigration that allows too many immigrants to receive benefits without citizenship.
District Judge Hanen concluded that former President Barack Obama over-extended his powers by creating the DACA program. Hanen says that deferred action is in direct violation of a federal law called the Administrative Procedure Act that governs how federal agencies issue regulations.
Hanen stated that while he stands by his ruling, the decision to cancel DACA would put the program on hold and suspend new applications.
President Biden has made it abundantly clear that he intends to reform the immigration system and build pathways to citizenship for all immigrants to the United States. The administration has rolled out policy after policy in an effort to revert some Trump-era rulings and create better solutions to other immigration issues.
Hanen’s ruling comes in direct conflict with the Biden Administration’s efforts. President Biden, who served as vice president under former President Barak Obama during the formation of DACA, takes the decision personally.
“While the court’s order does not now affect current DACA recipients, this decision nonetheless relegates hundreds of thousands of young immigrants to an uncertain future,” said Biden in a statement.
The President also points out that rulings like this one can only be made permanent by Congress – not a district judge.
What Congress Is Doing About It
Taking this ruling to Congress will be challenging. Democrats rule the Senate and House by a small margin, and the likelihood of collaboration with moderate or Republican members isn’t likely. With political divides more entrenched than ever, any action by either party is likely to be shut down by the other.
There are ways to push the issue, like a filibuster which would require 60/100 votes in favor of maintaining DACA. Unfortunately, Congress is split 50-50, with the only hope for approval being Vice President Kamala Harris’ vote.
As a part of the effort to improve immigration, Democrats are proposing a pathway to citizenship for DREAMERs (the beneficiaries of DACA) as a part of a $3.5 trillion spending package that could pass under a procedure called reconciliation.
What About Current DREAMERs?
The ruling from District Attorney Hanan will not affect current DREAMERs, and any efforts to stop DACA have not yet been applied to recent recipients. That said, potential beneficiaries in the process of applying or receiving approval may experience delays or denials as a result of shifting policies.
While it is crucial to create pathways to citizenship, shifting immigration policy takes time. It’s also important to acknowledge the fact that shifts in regulation have ripple effects that may influence whether immigrants get approved for benefits or not.
Immigration to the U.S. is becoming more accessible, but in doing so, some DREAMERs may fall through the cracks.
If you or a loved one is in the process of applying for DACA or other immigration benefits, contact Lim Law, P.A.