A federal judge in Texas ruled the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program illegal, Politico reports. However, it was kept intact for undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children. After the Biden administration moved last year to finalize a rule to codify the Obama-era DACA policy into a federal regulation, a group of Republican-led states challenged the effort and asked U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen to end the program over two years. Hanen’s latest decision pushes the program one step closer to the Supreme Court, where advocates and legal experts warn that the conservative bench seems likely to rule the program illegal. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said that he was “deeply disappointed” by Wednesday’s ruling.
Hanen was blunt in concluding that the Department of Homeland Security hadn’t really tweaked the program at all. Hanen said the Biden administration’s DACA rule illegally usurps Congress’ power. The judge stressed that he was not ordering the detention or removal of anyone and that those decisions remain in the hands of Department of Homeland Security officials. The initial DACA program established by Obama in 2012 faced no serious legal challenge at the time, but Hanen blocked an expansion of it in 2015. The Supreme Court deadlocked on the issue in 2016. In 2020, the Supreme Court issued a 5-4 ruling declaring that the effort by Trump officials to dismantle the program was legally flawed. The Biden administration is expected to appeal Wednesday’s decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which declared the initial DACA program unlawful last year.