A federal district court in the Southern District of Texas has confirmed that its injunction blocking the Department of Homeland Security’s 2012 DACA memorandum also blocks the agency’s new DACA regulation, published in August 2022. The DACA regulation will not take effect on October 31, 2022 as originally scheduled. However, the lower court’s ruling preserves the current partial stay of its injunction, allowing current DACA beneficiaries to continue to maintain and renew DACA protection. DACA beneficiaries should continue to file renewals as soon as possible, as further DACA litigation activity is expected.
A closer look
On October 14, 2022, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas ruled against the recently promulgated Department of Homeland Security (DHS) final rule on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), holding that the new rule is covered by the court’s existing injunction blocking the 2012 DHS DACA memorandum. However, the court has maintained the DACA program status quo by confirming that a partial stay of the injunction remains in place, continuing to permit current DACA beneficiaries to renew their DACA protection. As a result of the October 14 decision, however, the new DACA regulation will not take effect on October 31, 2022 as originally scheduled, and initial DACA approvals remain enjoined.
The court’s decision follows an appeals court ruling in early October 2022, in which a three-judge panel of the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals voted unanimously to uphold the district court’s 2021 order vacating the 2012 DHS memorandum that established the DACA program. However, because DHS had recently promulgated a DACA regulation, the Court of Appeals returned the case back to the district court to consider the legality of the regulation. The October 14 district court decision is the result of that review.
Impact on current DACA beneficiaries
Existing DACA beneficiaries retain their current deportation relief and employment authorization. DHS will continue to accept and process renewal applications from current DACA beneficiaries.
Impact on foreign nationals seeking initial DACA benefits
DHS continues to be prohibited from granting new or pending initial DACA applications. Although the agency will continue to accept applications for new initial DACA benefits, DHS cannot process those applications and must hold them in abeyance unless the stay of the district court injunction is broadened to include those applications or unless the DACA program is ultimately upheld in a subsequent stage of the litigation.
Current DACA beneficiaries remain protected by the continuation of the stay, but are advised to file renewals as soon as possible to minimize potential disruptions that could occur as a result of further litigation. Legislation that would provide permanent relief for Dreamers has been introduced in Congress, but the prospects for passage are uncertain.