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Biden Administration Advocates 'Dreamers' Immigration Program

A lawyer for the Biden administration on Wednesday urged a U.S. appeals court to toss out a ruling blocking an Obama-era program that protects certain immigrants who came to the United States as children from deportation, Reuters reports. Brian Boynton of the U.S. Department of Justice told a three-judge 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel in New Orleans that the state of Texas, which challenged the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in 2018, failed to back up claims that it was forced to increase spending on social services because of DACA. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security established the program in 2012 to protect children who were brought to the U.S. as children illegally or on visas that have since expired from deportation, grant them work authorization, and give them access to drivers' licenses and financial aid for education. There are an estimated 700,000 DACA recipients, known as "Dreamers," currently residing in the United States. A Texas federal judge in July 2021 blocked new applications to the program, but said the hundreds of thousands of people already enrolled would not be affected until further court rulings.

The judge found that DACA was an unlawful end-run around the legislative process because it provided benefits to recipients without congressional authorization. The Biden administration appealed. On Wednesday, Boynton told the 5th Circuit that Texas never had standing to challenge DACA in the first place. The harms alleged by the state are speculative, and Texas failed to show any specific expenditures resulting directly from the program, he said. Circuit Judges James Ho, an appointee of former Republican President Donald Trump, sounded unconvinced. Ho repeatedly pointed to a survey submitted by a group of DACA recipients who intervened in the case, in which twenty two percent of respondents said they were likely to leave the U.S. if DACA were struck down. Texas, which was joined in the lawsuit by eight other Republican-led states, has said the survey shows that the state's social services spending would decrease if DACA were repealed. "If it's too speculative for the beneficiaries themselves to say they would leave, it seems like you're saying there's no way there could ever be standing in a case like this," Ho said to Boynton.


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