A federal court in Texas decided Friday that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, the programme was unconstitutional, dealing a major blow to the Obama administration’s strategy to deport children brought to the country illegally.

Judge Andrew Hanen of the United States District Court agreed with a coalition of nine states headed by Texas in concluding that the DACA programme was established in violation of federal administrative law. Hanen stressed in his judgement that his decision does not obligate immigration officials to arrest and deport beneficiaries, but rather qualifies them.

Former President Barack Obama established DACA in 2012 to offer assistance for the increasing number of illegal immigrant children, dubbed Dreamers, who had little or no input in their immigration process due to their young. According to US Citizenship and Immigration Services, about 650,000 individuals have DACA status.

Obama Immigration
Source: cfr.org

Texas Attorney General’s Office attorneys contended that the Obama administration exceeded its executive power in establishing the programme. Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, South Carolina, and West Virginia joined them in the case.

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which defended the programme on behalf of a number of DACA beneficiaries, claimed at a previous hearing that Texas should lose its case since no state was affected by the presence of DACA.

Even as Republican-led states have sought to terminate the DACA programme, it has retained bipartisan political support. According to a 2018 Gallup poll, a sizable majority of Republicans – 75% – support enabling beneficiaries to apply for citizenship, as do 92% of Democrats.

According to Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, DACA is the president’s sole discretionary authority.

Saenz said that when dealing with the volume of individuals that the immigration system must deal with, resource choices must be made. It’s difficult to conceive of a more efficient method.

The Biden administration may move to amend the programme in a manner that satisfies Hanen’s decision, but many DACA participants’ futures will almost certainly be decided by the Supreme Court once again.

Additionally, the decision increases Biden’s pressure to secure a legislative win for DACA participants, perhaps via the reconciliation process.

House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, said that today’s erroneous decision flagrantly disregards the law and tradition, while casting a pall of dread and uncertainty over Dreamers, who are a source of national pride. She said that while we await the quick stay that the law plainly demands, Democrats will pursue any and all avenues necessary to guarantee that the Dream and Promise Act, which has been approved twice by the House, becomes law.

In reaction to the announcement, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus tweeted that it was more critical than ever for Congress to enact permanent Dreamer protections and offer a route to citizenship.