Trump Ordered an End to DACA Nearly a Year Ago. Its Future Remains Uncertain
A federal judge has ordered the Trump administration to fully restart the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, but the legal wrangling over the future of the program—which protects immigrants brought into the U.S. as children from deportation—is not over.
In a decision issued late last week, District of Columbia-based district judge John Bates dismissed the administration's rationale for shutting down DACA as inadequate. Bates' ruling marks the fourth district court judgment against the White House's efforts to eliminate the program.
However, the order doesn't take effect immediately. Bates gave the administration until August 23 to appeal the ruling or restart the Obama-era program, which grants permits to an estimated 700,000 immigrants, allowing them to legally work and stay in the country.
But the ruling does not signal an end to the legal challenges against DACA.
On Wednesday, a federal district judge in Texas will hear arguments in an anti-DACA lawsuit filed by several state attorneys general and led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. The states want DACA, including permit renewals, put on hold while all pending lawsuits wind through the federal court system.
Texas had success in stopping a similar Obama-era program, the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or DAPA. That success hinged largely on the state's claim that it would be adversely affected by the program. One negative impact, the state argued, is that it would have to spend millions of dollars issuing driver's licenses or other forms of identification to DAPA recipients.
Attorneys for MALDEF, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, will represent nearly two dozen DACA recipients in the Texas case. MALDEF's attorneys said the efforts by Texas and the Trump administration to end DACA are intertwined.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced last September that the administration would no longer process DACA applications and renewals, with plans to wind down the program in March. That decision came the same day that Paxton and the other attorneys general pledged to sue the federal government if the White House did not cancel DACA.
If Texas' attorney general wins the latest case, tens of thousands of Texans could be affected—roughly 110,000 DACA recipients live in the state, according to the Washington-based Migration Policy Institute.
Last week's ruling and this week's hearing may have serious implications for the nation's K-12 schools, well beyond the Lone Star state.
The Migration Policy Institute estimates that a quarter-million students have become DACA-eligible since President Barack Obama began the program in 2012 and that about 9,000 undocumented, DACA-protected teachers work in U.S. schools.
Photo Credit: Diego Rios, 23, of Rockville, Md., rallies in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA, outside of the White House last September.--Jacquelyn Martin/AP