Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Biden administration appeals DACA’s unlawful ruling

Last week, the Biden administration appealed a Texas court ruling that found the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program unlawful, causing uncertainty for thousands of DREAMers.

The Justice Department filed a notice to appeal US District Judge Andrew Hanen’s ruling, starting the appeals process in the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals, a conservative appeals court. The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), which is representing a group of DACA recipients who are defending the program, also filed a notice to appeal.

In July, Judge Hanen ruled that DACA violated the Administrative Procedure Act, which dictates what procedures agencies must go through to implement certain policies. He blocked the government from approving new applications for the program but allowed the program to continue for current enrollees while the case is litigated.

Since the ruling, a proposed DACA regulation has been submitted to the Office of Management and Budget. However, the COVID-19 pandemic and other factors have created a severe backlog of more than 55,000 applications, which cannot be approved under Hanen’s ruling.

“The ongoing failure of the Congress to act to provide permanent protection and a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients necessitates the filing of this appeal to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. [We’re looking] forward to a successful appeal on behalf of our courageous clients, even as we urge Congress to act to prevent the necessity of this appeal,” said Thomas A. Saenz, President and General Counsel of the MALDEF  in a statement.

The case has put additional pressure on Congress, where Democrats are trying to include a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented people in a budget reconciliation bill, including DREAMers, essential workers, and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients.

While it is unclear whether the DACA case will end up before the Supreme Court. In a previous DACA-related case last year, three justices signaled in a dissent their belief that the program is unlawful. The full court has not yet weighed in on DACA’s legality.