A federal judge in the Federal District Court in Houston has ruled that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is unlawful. Judge Andrew S. Hanen ruled in 2021 that the program was illegal because the government under then-president Barack Obama did not fulfill a mandatory public notice and comment period.

The judge also made it abundantly clear that his order does not require the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) nor the Department of Justice (DOJ) to take any actions against DACA recipients. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) all operate under DHS.

“To be clear, neither this order nor the accompanying supplemental injunction requires the DHS or Department of Justice to take any immigration, deportation, or criminal action against any DACA recipient, applicant, or any other individual that would otherwise not be taken,” said U.S. District Court Judge Hanen.

While the judge emphasized his doubts about the legality of the program – disallowing new applications – he did allow current DACA recipients to continue participating in the program as it was intended without facing the threat of deportation. Judge Hanen also echoed his ruling from 2021 saying enrollees in the program can continue to renew their status every two years.

“The ruling preserves the stay, which means current DACA recipients will not lose their protection from removal,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas in a statement. “But this ruling does undermine the security and stability of more than half a million Dreamers who have contributed to our communities. The United States is the only home they have ever known. Congress has failed to act, and now Dreamers face an uncertain future, waiting to receive the permanent protection they deserve.”

Beneficiaries of the DACA program came to the United States as children through no choice of their own. Because they entered the country without papers or overstayed visas they lack lawful status. DACA protects them from deportation and allows them to receive work permits allowing the vast majority of them to build lives by contributing to their communities across the country.

“Consistent with the ruling, USCIS will continue to process DACA renewals, and DHS will continue to advocate on behalf of DACA recipients every day, in the courts and through our actions,” Secretary Mayorkas continued. “We stand ready to work with Congress on an enduring solution for our Dreamers.”

While most DACA beneficiaries are Latino, many are from Asia and Africa.

Full Text of Judge Hanen’s Decision

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Arturo Dominguez

Arturo is an anti-racist political nerd. He is an upcoming author, journalist, advocate for social justice, and a married father of three. He is a top writer on Medium and a regular contributor to several news media outlets. He writes educational and informative material about systemic racism, white supremacy, and racial injustice.

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