On November 9, 2023, the Biden administration filed an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, challenging a District court’s ruling that threatens to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”).
The administration’s appeal was joined by another submitted by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, an advocacy group that has been representing several DACA recipients in the years long court battle over DACA.
The appeals were widely expected, with both the White House and several immigration advocates roundly criticizing U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen's Sept. 13, 2023, ruling against DACA.
HISTORY OF THE DACA COURT CASE
The DACA program provides immigration protections to hundreds of thousands of unauthorized immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.
In 2018, the State of Texas (and 6 other states) sued the federal government to roll back the DACA program, arguing that former president Obama had exceeded his presidential authority by offering through executive order what the U.S. Congress has repeatedly declined to pass.
Judge Hanen, who had previously struck down an expanded version of DACA, as well as a sister immigration program covering the undocumented parents of U.S. citizens, sided with the states and barred the U.S. Department of Homeland Security from approving new DACA requests.
President Biden appealed the ruling to the Fifth Circuit, but as he defended the program in court, he issued a rule codifying DACA's protections into federal regulation.
The Fifth Circuit upheld Judge Hanen's injunction order, but remanded the lawsuit back to Judge Hanen to review Biden's attempt at strengthening the program.
On remand, Judge Hanen rejected Biden's fix in September, finding the rebooted program to be materially identical to the one he had ruled against in 2021. While he was sympathetic to DACA recipients and their families, he stated that the power to create DACA is vested in Congress, not the White House. In so ruling, he allowed the Biden administration to continue processing DACA renewal applications.
The ongoing DACA case has sparked renewed calls for Congress to pass long-stalled legislation that would create a citizenship pathway for DACA beneficiaries, as well as other "Dreamers" who are too young to qualify for the Obama-era program.
The DACA Lawsuit is State of Texas et al. v. U.S. et al., case number 1:18-cv-00068. It is now on appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
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