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Appeals Court Says DACA Is Illegal but Keeps Program Alive for Now


WASHINGTON — A federal appeals court panel ruled on Wednesday that a program that protects nearly 600,000 young immigrants from deportation is illegitimate but allowed those already enrolled to renew their status — in essence keeping the status of this system unchanged but its future uncertain.

The decision from the three-judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit — one among the country’s most conservative federal appellate courts — affirmed a 2021 lower court decision. The Biden administration might want to proceed its legal fight to enroll latest applicants in this system, called the Deferred Motion for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.

The judges sent the case back to Federal District Court in Houston to think about a latest administration policy issued in August to guard this system. The brand new regulation was intended to enter effect at the tip of the month.

Wednesday’s ruling was the newest turn in a series of court rulings and administration actions that over time has canceled, reinstated or rolled back pieces of the DACA program. It has long seemed likely that the case would ultimately go to the Supreme Court.

Immigration advocates said the ruling signaled that the one likelihood for DACA to survive was for Congress to pass a law to guard young immigrants, something it has been unable to do for greater than 20 years.

With midterm elections approaching, here’s where President Biden stands.

“This decision makes 100% clear that the choices for preserving DACA within the courts are dwindling and essentially nonexistent at this point,” said Jess Hanson, a staff lawyer on the National Immigration Law Center. “We really want Congress to step up.”

Democrats have been attempting to preserve the Obama-era program for years.

Former President Barack Obama created DACA through executive motion in 2012 after years of inaction in Congress to offer everlasting protection to immigrants who were dropped at the country as children, a bunch known as “Dreamers.”

How Times reporters cover politics. We depend on our journalists to be independent observers. So while Times staff members may vote, they aren’t allowed to endorse or campaign for candidates or political causes. This includes participating in marches or rallies in support of a movement or giving money to, or raising money for, any political candidate or election cause.

It was intended as a stopgap measure to offer tons of of 1000’s of young immigrants protection from deportation. The protection lasts two years at a time and is renewable, but it surely doesn’t offer a path to citizenship.

Immigrants within the DACA program are on average about 26 years old, with the oldest nearing 40. Most were dropped at the country from Mexico; others were born in other Latin American countries and the Caribbean. Lots of the DACA recipients have been in a position to raise families, buy homes and work at jobs of their fields of study, but their status has been precarious for years.

In June 2020, the Supreme Court ruled against the Trump administration’s decision to terminate this system. The court didn’t rule, nevertheless, on whether this system had been legally adopted. One in every of President Biden’s first actions in office was to strengthen the DACA program. However the 2021 Texas court ruling renewed the uncertainty surrounding it.

On Wednesday, the judges wrote that while they agree with the lower court that the DACA program just isn’t legal, they “also recognize that DACA has had profound significance to recipients and lots of others within the 10 years since its adoption.”

The Justice Department was working with the Homeland Security Department on a response to the ruling.

In a press release late Wednesday, Mr. Biden reiterated his administration’s commitment to defend the status of DACA recipients.

“The court’s stay provides a short lived reprieve for DACA recipients, but one thing stays clear: The lives of Dreamers remain in limbo,” he said. “Today’s decision is the results of continued efforts by Republican state officials to strip DACA recipients of the protections and work authorization that many have now held for over a decade.”

The Biden administration has repeatedly called on lawmakers to pass laws enshrining protections for young undocumented immigrants. However the Democrat-led Congress is running out of time to search out a long-term solution, particularly if Republicans regain control of the House within the Nov. 8 midterm elections.

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