Update on DACA

A long dispute about the constitutionality of DACA (Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals) reached another milestone with a federal judge in Texas has once more ruling that the Obama-era program protecting young immigrants known as Dreamers is illegal. (Go here). In the end, I expect that the Supreme Court will rule that DACA is an unconstitutional overreach of Executive Branch powers to make sweeping immigration law policy affecting large numbers of persons.  The Biden Administration’s use of humanitarian parole to enable hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers into the U.S. temporary is also under fire by some state attorneys general.

DACA beneficiaries are part of some two million persons of working age who are able to work legally only due to temporary programs created or expanded by the Obama and Biden administrations. This number will increase a lot if and when the surrent surge of parole beneficiaries are permitted to work.

U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen, a George W. Bush appointee, previously invalidated the program in 2021, saying Congress never gave the executive branch the power to grant mass reprieves to an entire class of immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally.

The case now will likely go back to the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which also has previously ruled against DACA. If it does so again, the administration could seek review by the Supreme Court.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, will remain in effect while the decision is appealed, and existing beneficiaries can continue to renew their participation in the program, which provides work permits and protections against deportation. As was the case before Wednesday’s decision, new applicants can’t be admitted to the program.

What is DACA?

DACA, created by executive order in 2012, protects to immigrants without legal authorization who were 30 years old or younger when the program was announced. DACA recipients must have arrived in the U.S. before they turned 16 and satisfied a range of conditions, including being a student or graduate and having no significant criminal record. The program has been shut to new applicants since September 5, 2017. As of then about 800,000 were eligible about 600,000 are formally enrolled in the program.  Whenever the prospects for a permanent resolution rise, advocates think of including more persons up to as much as two million.

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