Posted on October 6, 2022

Court Declares DACA Program Illegal

Camilo Montoya-Galvez, CBS News, October 6, 2022

A federal appeals court on Wednesday said the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy violates U.S. immigration law, dealing a blow to an Obama-era program that provides deportation protection and work permits to nearly 600,000 immigrant “Dreamers” who lack legal status.

A three-judge panel for the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals concluded the Obama administration did not have the legal authority to create DACA in 2012, affirming a July 2021 ruling from a federal judge in Texas who barred the Biden administration from enrolling new immigrants in the decade-old program.

Despite its conclusion, the appeals court did not order the Biden administration to shut down DACA completely or stop processing renewal applications, deciding instead to leave in place an order from U.S. Judge Andrew Hanen that left the policy intact for current beneficiaries. The government, however, will continue to be prohibited from approving first-time DACA applications.

The appeals court sent the case back to Hanen, tasking him with reviewing regulations that the Biden administration unveiled in August to address the legal challenges over the Obama administration’s decision to create DACA through a memo, instead of a rule open to public comments. The regulations are currently slated to go into effect on October 31.

The Justice Department, which represents the federal government in lawsuits, said it disagreed with the ruling and vowed to “vigorously defend the lawfulness of DACA as this case proceeds.” The Biden administration is likely to file a formal appeal, paving the way for the conservative-leaning high court to issue a final decision on DACA’s legality next year.


In its ruling Wednesday, the three-judge panel concluded that DACA had the same legal defects as another Obama-era program that would have offered deportation protection to the unauthorized immigrant parents of U.S. citizens and green card holders. The program, known as the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA), was blocked in court and was never implemented.


As of June 30, 594,120 immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children were enrolled in DACA, half of whom live in California, Texas and Illinois, according to data published by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the agency that administers the program.


While DACA allows beneficiaries to live and work in the U.S. legally without fear of deportation, it does not qualify them for permanent legal status or citizenship. {snip}