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Judge blocks new applications to DACA program, Biden vows to appeal

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NEW YORK (Reuters) — A U.S. federal judge in Texas on Friday blocked new applications to a program that protects immigrants who were brought to the United States as children from deportation but said the hundreds of thousands of people already enrolled would not be affected until further court rulings.

U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen sided with a group of states suing to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, arguing it was illegally created by former President Barack Obama in 2012.

President Joe Biden said in a statement Saturday that Friday’s ruling was “deeply disappointing” and the Department of Justice will appeal the decision.

In 2012, the Obama-Biden Administration created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, which has allowed hundreds of thousands of young immigrants to remain in the United States, to live, study, and work in our communities. Nine years later, Congress has not acted to provide a path to citizenship for Dreamers.

Yesterday’s Federal court ruling is deeply disappointing. While the court’s order does not now affect current DACA recipients, this decision nonetheless relegates hundreds of thousands of young immigrants to an uncertain future. The Department of Justice intends to appeal this decision in order to preserve and fortify DACA. And, as the court recognized, the Department of Homeland Security plans to issue a proposed rule concerning DACA in the near future.

But only Congress can ensure a permanent solution by granting a path to citizenship for Dreamers that will provide the certainty and stability that these young people need and deserve. I have repeatedly called on Congress to pass the American Dream and Promise Act, and I now renew that call with the greatest urgency. It is my fervent hope that through reconciliation or other means, Congress will finally provide security to all Dreamers, who have lived too long in fear.

Hanen found the program violated the Administrative Procedure Act when it was created but said that since there were so many people currently enrolled in the program – nearly 650,000 – his ruling would be temporarily stayed for their cases until further court rulings in the case.

“To be clear,” the judge said, the order does not require the government to take “any immigration, deportation or criminal action against any DACA recipient.” Biden, who was vice president when Obama created the program, has said he wants to create a permanent pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients.

Biden issued a memorandum on his first day in office directing the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to take “all actions he deems appropriate” to “preserve and fortify” the program, which former President Donald Trump, a Republican, tried to end.

The U.S. Supreme Court last year blocked a bid by Trump to end DACA, saying that his administration had done so in an “arbitrary and capricious” manner.

Copyright Thomson Reuters 2021.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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