No ruling in Texas yet on DACA

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When it comes to DACA, the wait continues. At a status hearing on Tuesday, US District Judge Andrew Hanen did not rule on the legality of the Obama-era program (known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), but he did indicate he could issue a later ruling in the future.

Oral arguments in Texas v. United States started last December. Texas is the leader in a coalition of Republican-led states that have attempted to terminate DACA. The two defenders of DACA are the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) and the state of New Jersey.

In 2012, the Obama administration formally announced the DACA program, which would permit young immigrants brought to the United States as children to remain temporarily in the U.S. with two-year work visas.

In June 2017, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, along with several other state attorneys general, threatened to file an amended lawsuit against the already-terminated DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans) if the Trump administration did not also end DACA. In September 2017, then Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that DACA was rescinded. The announcement from Sessions spawned a flurry of lawsuits, with several injunctions keeping DACA legal.

In May 2018, Texas led a seven-state lawsuit against DACA. Ultimately, Texas v. United States was stayed in the Southern District of Texas, as the Supreme Court took up the case in their last session. Ultimately, the Supreme Court ruled that the Trump administration had violated the Administrative Procedure Act when it terminated DACA. After that ruling, Paxton issued a statement expressing disappointment in the Supreme Court.

In Tuesday’s status hearing, MALDEF and the state of New Jersey argued for Judge Hanen to delay any ruling, particularly as the Biden administration previously announced their intention to preserve DACA. The U.S. House of Representatives also passed the American Dream and Promise Act, which would provide a path to citizenship to DACA recipients.

Lawyers representing the state of Texas argued that the American Dream and Promise Act is likely to die in the Senate, since it would fail to meet a 60-vote threshold. Judge Hanen also sounded skeptical about any legislative solutions for DACA, comparing immigration efforts to “Waiting for Godot.”

Judge Hanen proposed a deadline of April 9 for both parties to submit additional briefs.

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