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Federal District Court Rules Against the DACA Program


  • A federal district judge in Texas issued a permanent injunction against the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, but has temporarily stayed portions of his injunction pertaining to current DACA beneficiaries.
  • DACA deportation relief and employment authorization will remain in place for beneficiaries in good standing, but new applications for initial DACA benefits cannot be approved.
  • The Biden Administration is expected to appeal the ruling.

Court Order for DACA

Judge Andrew Hanen of the Federal District Court for the Southern District of Texas issued a permanent injunction against the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. He ordered that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) memorandum establishing the program be vacated. The judge remanded the DACA memorandum to DHS for further consideration to permit the agency to attempt to cure legal deficiencies. Judge Hanen temporarily stayed portions of his ruling with respect to existing DACA beneficiaries in good standing.

Judge Hanen determined that, in establishing the program, the Obama Administration had exceeded its authority and had not followed procedural requirements. The case is State of Texas v. United States.

USCIS Guidance for DACA beneficiaries

USCIS will continue to accept and process renewal applications, employment authorization extensions and advance parole requests submitted by current DACA beneficiaries, the agency has confirmed. Current DACA grantees remain eligible to file for renewal of deportation relief, employment authorization, and advance parole. USCIS will continue to process these applications. Existing DACA beneficiaries should continue to submit timely applications for renewal.

USCIS is prohibited from granting new or pending initial DACA applications. Though foreign nationals may continue to submit applications for new initial DACA benefits, those applications cannot be approved by DHS unless the court order is modified or subject to a broader stay.

USCIS is expected to issue detailed guidance on the acceptance and processing of DACA applications in the near future. 

What’s next for the DACA program

The Biden Administration is expected to appeal the court’s decision. Several bills to provide permanent relief for Dreamers are pending in Congress.

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