Federal judge declares DACA ‘illegal’ and blocks new applications


Federal judge declares DACA ‘illegal’ and blocks new applications

Federal judge declares DACA ‘illegal’ and blocks new applications

A federal judge has blocked new applications to a programme that has shielded thousands of young migrants from deportation after they arrived in the US as children, but the decision will not impact the status of people have already been admitted.

Though the latest decision against the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programme does not revoke their legal status, it continues a legal limbo for immigrant “dreamers” and their families who have lived in the country for years, with legal protections extending from the 2012 policy under then-president Barack Obama.

US District Judge Andrew Hanen, who was appointed by George W Bush, ruled that the former president had overstepped his executive authority and “illegally implemented” a programme that has granted protections to roughly 650,000 people.

The decision follows a lawsuit from Republican officials in Texas and several other states who have sought to argue that immigrants have over-burdened their social safety nets and other costs.

But the judge did not upend DACA entirely, keeping it in place for existing dreamers in noting that the decade-long programme has become a part of the fabric of many communities.

“Hundreds of thousands of individual DACA recipients, along with their employers, states, and loved ones, have come to rely on the DACA program,” he wrote in his ruling.

“Given those interests, it is not equitable for a government program that has engendered such a significant reliance to terminate suddenly,” he said. “This consideration, along with the government’s assertion that it is ready and willing to try to remedy the legal defects of the DACA program indicates that equity will not be served by a complete and immediate cessation of DACA.”

Donald Trump had previously tried to revoke the programme, but the US Supreme Court ruled against his administration and a New York judge ordered him to restore it in December.

The decision will likely spur Congress into legislative action, with a White House-backed measure that proposes a sweeping set of reforms with an eight-year path to citizenship that could impact 11 million immigrants.

Roughly 254,000 children in the US have at least one parent granted DACA protections, according to the Center for American Progress.

Todd Schulte, president of progressive immigration organisation FWD.us, said the programme has transformed countless lives.

“Today makes absolutely clear: only a permanent legislative solution passed by Congress will eliminate the fear and uncertainty that DACA recipients have been forced to live with for years,” he said in a statement. “We call on each and every elected office to do everything within their power so that DACA recipients and their families and communities can live free from fear, and continue to build their lives here.”


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