A federal appeals court on Wednesday ruled that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy is unlawful but agreed to preserve the program for existing recipients.
A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a July 2021 decision from Texas federal judge Andrew Hanen, who said the Obama administration had no authority to impose DACA, according to a court filing obtained by Axios. The court blocked the Biden administration from enrolling new illegal immigrants, which would provide them with work permits and shield them from deportation, but said current beneficiaries could stay and that immigration officials could process DACA renewals.
"In our view, the defendants have not shown that there is a likelihood that they will succeed on the merits," Chief Judge Priscilla Richman wrote Wednesday. "We also recognize that DACA has had profound significance to recipients and many others in the ten years since its adoption."
Richman returned the case challenging the legality of the policy back to a lower court in Texas to examine a recent rule the Biden administration implemented in a maneuver to protect the program from litigation. The Biden administration, which appealed the 2021 ruling, codified DACA into regulatory law this August and revoked the 2012 memo drafted by former Department of Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano that formed the original program. Given Wednesday's ruling, the Biden administration is expected to file a formal appeal that could eventually send the case to the Supreme Court to make a final judgment on DACA's constitutionality.
DACA applies to nearly 600,000 illegal immigrants residing in the U.S., often called "Dreamers" by proponents of the program, who had to prove that they arrived in the country by age 16 and before June 2007. They must attend or have graduated from high school and cannot have a serious criminal record. Recipients are also not entitled under the program to be given permanent legal status or citizenship.
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