NY Groups Fear Fallout From Federal Judge In Texas Suspending “Dreamers” Policy

A federal judge in Texas ordered the suspension of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program on Friday, saying former President Barack Obama had overstepped his authority in creating the policy that protected undocumented children brought to the United States.

The program participants who have already been enrolled in DACA and known as “Dreamers” can remain in the country, but new applications will not be approved, said Judge Andrew S. Hanen of the United States District Court in Houston, the New York Times reported. Hanen also wrote “that the federal government should not ‘take any immigration, deportation or criminal action’ against (the Dreamers) that it ‘would not otherwise take,’ the Times said.

Friday’s decision lends more urgency to calls from advocates to create a permanent solution for undocumented immigrants.

“Today’s ruling is a chilling reminder that the Republicans’ far-right anti-immigrant agenda continues to outlive Donald Trump with devastating consequences for our communities,” said Murad Awawdeh, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition in a statement Friday. He raised the fear that the program will be fully rolled back and the DACA participants known as “Dreamers” stripped of their protections.

“Rescinding DACA would be a disaster for America’s health, economy, and legacy. Nearly 50,000 New Yorkers and their families are now at risk of being ripped from the only home they’ve ever known,” Awawdeh said. “Judge Hanen’s ruling makes it crystal clear that Washington can’t keep playing politics with the lives of these New Yorkers and the hundreds of thousands like them across the country.”

In a statement, Jose Lopez, Co-Executive Director of the Make the Road New York immigrant advocacy group said it’s time to create a permanent pathway for undocumented immigrants.

“We know that DACA is lawful, and it has helped and protected immigrants across the country. Nonetheless, DACA has always been temporary. Today’s cruel decision reiterates the urgency for permanent protections for all undocumented immigrants,” Lopez said in a statement Friday. Now more than ever, Congress and the Biden administration must use every means possible to create a path to citizenship for DACA recipients, TPS holders, and essential workers, including budget reconciliation.”

Originally created in 2012 by Obama, the DACA program has been a favorite target of immigration hardliners since its inception. Hanen, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, ”ruled that the creation of the program violated the Administrative Procedure Act, in part because comment from the general public was never sought,” the Times reported.

Texas state officials led the legal challenge to DACA and the lawsuit was joined by Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, South Carolina and West Virginia, the Times said, writing that “Officials in those states had argued that the program was improperly adopted and left them with the burden of paying for education, health care and other benefits for immigrants who remained in the country under DACA’s protections.”

In June 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Trump administration violated the law by the manner in which it ended DACA in 2017 and ordered the program reinstated — though notably Chief Justice John Roberts’s majority opinion did not attempt to weigh the morality of DACA, and left the door open for the Department of Homeland Security to revisit other legal challenges.

On his first day in office, President Joe Biden told the Department of Homeland Security’s secretary “to take all actions he deems appropriate, consistent with applicable law, to preserve and fortify DACA,” NBC News reported, adding that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “predicted the ruling would be stayed and said that Democrats would ‘continue to press for any and all paths to ensure that the Dream and Promise Act, now passed twice by the House, becomes the law of the land.'”