NEW YORK, July 16 (Reuters) – A U.S. federal judge in Texas on Friday blocked new applications to a program that protects immigrants who were delivered to the us as children from deportation, but said the many thousands of individuals already enrolled wouldn’t be affected until further court rulings.
U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen sided with a gaggle of states suing to finish the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, arguing that it had been illegally created by former President Barack Obama in 2012.
Hanen found the program violated the executive Procedure Act (APA) when it had been created but said that since there have been numerous people currently enrolled within the program – nearly 650,000 – his ruling would be temporarily stayed for his or her cases and their renewal applications.
“To be clear,” the judge said, the order doesn’t require the govt to require “any immigration, deportation or criminal action against any DACA recipient.”
He said the govt could still receive new applications to the program, as ordered by a federal judge during a separate case, but that it couldn’t approve them.
The White House and Department of Justice didn’t immediately answer an invitation for comment.
Cheska Mae Perez, a 23-year-old DACA recipient from the Philippines, said her 22-year-old brother and 20-year-old sister applied for DACA as soon as new applications were allowed following a writ in December 2020. Her brother received his approval a few of weeks ago, she said, but her sister was still waiting.
“I spoke together with her a couple of minutes after the choice decreased ,” Perez said. “She burst into tears.”
Democratic U.S. Senator Bob Menendez of latest Jersey wrote on Twitter that the ruling wasn’t a surprise, “just a painful reminder that we’d like to prevent counting on temporary immigration fixes.”
“Congress must seize the instant and any and every one opportunities to finally provide a pathway to legalization for many undocumented immigrants,” he said.
Democratic President Joe Biden, who was vice chairman when Obama created the program, has said he wants to make a permanent pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients, referred to as “Dreamers.”
Biden issued a memorandum on his first day in office directing the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to require “all actions he deems appropriate” to “preserve and fortify” the program, which former President Donald Trump, a Republican, tried to finish .
JUDGE AGREED WITH DACA CRITICS
The U.S. Supreme Court last year blocked a bid by Trump to finish DACA, saying that his administration had done so in an “arbitrary and capricious” manner.
U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in March that his department would issue a proper regulation to strengthen the legal standing of the DACA program, but the agency has yet to try to to so.
Biden’s comprehensive immigration bill, which Democrats introduced in Congress on Feb. 18, also involves a three-year pathway to citizenship for several DACA recipients, but it lacks Republican support and faces long odds of passage.
The Obama administration issued a memo creating the DACA program after a bipartisan immigration reform bill called the DREAM Act did not pass Congress.
Recipients are shielded from deportation, granted work authorization, given access to drivers’ licenses, and in some cases have better access to aid for education.
Hanen agreed in his ruling with critics of the program who argued that DACA did an end-run round the legislative process by providing benefits to Dreamers without congressional authorization.
Beneficiaries of the program say that within the near-decade since its creation, DACA has allowed them to develop lives within the us that might are impossible without some sort of status .
At an equivalent time, recipients say the program’s constant tumult within the courts has caused undue stress, with an ever-present looming threat that the advantages of DACA could disappear at any moment.
Even though the ruling protects DACA holders for now, the prospect of future court proceedings creates more uncertainty for the group.
Reporting by Mica Rosenberg, additional reporting by Kristina Cooke; Editing by Ross Colvin and Daniel Wallis
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