Attorneys representing nine states that filed a lawsuit aiming to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, along with representatives from the U.S. Justice Department and DACA recipients, are scheduled to appear at a court hearing Thursday, marking the latest attempt to dismantle legal protections for tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants residing in the United States.
U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen, based in Houston, will reconsider the revised version of the federal policy designed to safeguard from deportation hundreds of thousands of immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.
DACA, originally put in place by President Barack Obama's administration in 2012, has faced many legal journeys through various federal courts.
The states involved in the lawsuit — Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina, West Virginia, Kansas, and Mississippi — argue that allowing immigrants to remain in the country unlawfully causes the states financial harm. Moreover, they argue that the White House exceeded its authority by granting immigration benefits that should have been determined by Congress.
In 2021, Hanen concluded that the Obama administration had not followed federal law when implementing DACA, and ruled there can be no new applicants while appeals are pending. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld this decision but sent the case back to him to review the revisions adopted by the Biden administration in August 2022.
While the revised policies, effective since October, mainly consist of technical adjustments and offer little substantive change compared to the 2012 DACA memorandum, they are subject to public comments as part of a formal rule-making process.
Additionally, the DOJ argues that the states did not demonstrate any direct harm resulting from DACA and that Congress has granted the Department of Homeland Security the "authority and responsibility to establish immigration enforcement policies."
According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, as of December 2022, over 580,000 individuals were enrolled in DACA.
Additional reporting by The Associated Press.
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