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A federal judge in Texas has approved a request by a group of states to end an Obama-era program that shielded young immigrants from deportation.

This new ruling puts new pressure for action on President Joe Biden and Democrats who now control Congress.

Judge Andrew Hanen, a U.S. District Judge, ruled in favor of Texas which provides limited protections to about 650,000 people. People who are already enrolled won’t lose protections, but Hanen is barring the processing of new applications.

Also, eight other conservative states had sued to halt the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Biden is now in a tight position because he pledged during his campaign to protect DACA, to keep the program or something similar in place. Hanen’s decision limits the immediate ability of Biden.

His ruling is the second by a federal judge in Texas stopping Biden’s immigration plans, after court-barred enforcement of Biden’s 100-day stay on most deportations.

Biden has already proposed legislation that would provide a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 million people living in the U.S. without authorization. He also ordered agencies to make efforts to preserve the program.

Supporters of DACA, including those who argued before Hanen to save it, have said a law passed by Congress is necessary to provide permanent relief. Hanen has said Congress must act if the U.S. wants to provide the protections in DACA to recipients commonly known as “Dreamers.”

Hanen’s ruling came after he held a nearly 3 1/2 hour court hearing Dec. 22 on DACA’s fate.

The states argued that former President Barack Obama never had the authority in 2012 to create a program like DACA because it circumvented Congress. The states also argued the program drains their educational and healthcare resources.

Suing alongside Texas were Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, South Carolina and West Virginia — states that all had Republican governors or state attorneys general.

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office, which defended the program on behalf of a group of DACA recipients, had argued Obama had the authority to institute DACA and that the states lacked the standing to sue because they had not suffered any harm due to the program.

Hanen had rejected Texas’ request in 2018 to stop the program through a preliminary injunction. But in a foreshadowing of his latest ruling, Hanen said in 2018 that he believed DACA as enacted was likely unconstitutional.

“If the nation truly wants to have a DACA program, it is up to Congress to say so,” Hanen wrote then.

Hanen ruled in 2015 that Obama could not expand DACA protections or institute a program shielding their parents.

While DACA is often described as a program for young immigrants, many recipients have lived in the U.S. for a decade or longer after being brought into the country without permission or overstaying visas.

The liberal Center for American Progress says roughly 254,000 children have at least one parent relying on DACA. Some recipients are grandparents.

The U.S. Supreme Court previously ruled that former President Donald Trump’s attempt to end DACA in 2017 was unlawful.

A New York judge in December ordered the Trump administration to restore the program as enacted by Obama.

Source: The Western Journal

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