Federal judge orders Biden administration to end new DACA applications

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A federal judge on Friday ordered the Biden administration to stop all applications for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, after a coalition of states sued and claimed that the Obama-era program was illegal.

DACA was established under the Obama administration in 2012 and granted protection from deportation to illegal immigrants who came to the country as children. Approximately 800,000 are estimated to have been granted protection under the program, and hundreds of thousands more are deemed eligible.

Judge Andrew Hanen, a Texas judge, found that the Department of Homeland Security violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) in creating the policy. He found that the policy was “illegally implemented” and ordered DHS to stop approving DACA applications, although he said it could continue to accept applications and that it does not affect the status of any current DACA recipients.

The suit had been brought by a coalition of states led by Texas, who argued that the policy violated the APA and the Constitution.

Republicans have repeatedly claimed that the program was illegal, and President Donald Trump sought to revoke the program — although that was overturned by the Supreme Court, which found it was done in a manner that was “arbitrary and capricious,” while not ruling on the program itself.

Democrats, and some Republicans, as well as the Biden administration, have supported pathways to citizenship for DACA recipients, whom activists and Democrats have termed “dreamers,” as well as a push to broaden the number of illegal immigrants protected under the program.

President Biden signed a memo after entering office to protect DACA, ordering DHS to take “all appropriate actions under the law” to preserve the program and calling on Congress to give a path to citizenship for recipients.

A number of efforts in Congress have sought to give legal status to DACA recipients. Most recently, Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., said that the Democratic budget proposal includes a pathway for citizenship for a number of illegal immigrant groups — including DACA recipients.

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