President Joe Biden announced on Saturday that the Justice Department plans to appeal a federal judge’s decision to criminalize an immigration program that protected hundreds of thousands of children and young adults from deportation. President Barack Obama fast-tracked the immigration policy known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in 2012 when Congress failed to pass the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act to grant those who were brought to the United States as minors temporary residency. On Friday, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen ruled in agreement with Texas and eight other states who argued in a lawsuit that Obama lacked the authority to work around Congress to pass DACA, according to The Associated Press. The judge directed the Department of Homeland Security to post a notice within three days that the District Court “found the DACA program to be illegal and that, though applicants may continue to submit applications, the Government is prohibited from granting such applications.”
Biden called the decision “deeply disappointing” in his statement. “While the court’s order does not now affect current DACA recipients, this decision nonetheless relegates hundreds of thousands of young immigrants to an uncertain future,” the president said. “The Department of Justice intends to appeal this decision in order to preserve and fortify DACA.”
Hanen said in the order that states proved “the hardship that the continued operation of DACA has inflicted on them.”
“Furthermore, the government has no legitimate interest in the continuation of an illegally implemented program,” wrote Hanen, who was nominated to his position by former President George Bush in 2002.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, one of the Republican prosecutors who launched the suit. tweeted on Saturday: “I think it’s right to stop a president who just decided that he didn’t like federal law & came up with his own immigration laws. We sued him, rightfully so, for violating federal law and we won. #DACA”
Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement on Saturday that he is “disappointed” but the decision “will not derail our efforts to protect Dreamers.” He added:
“The Biden-Harris Administration—and this country—remain as committed as ever to ensuring that Dreamers are protected from the threat of deportation and are allowed to continue to contribute to this country that is their home. DHS remains focused on safeguarding DACA, and we will engage the public in a rulemaking process to preserve and fortify DACA. The Department of Justice also intends to appeal yesterday’s order. Moreover, we will continue processing DACA renewal requests, consistent with the ruling. Still, only the passage of legislation will give full protection and a path to citizenship to DACA recipients. In January, President Biden offered a legislative proposal, and in March the House of Representatives passed the ‘American Dream and Promise Act.’ I urge Congress to act swiftly to enact legislation through the reconciliation process to provide permanent protection that the American people want and Dreamers have earned.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also called for Republicans in Congress to join in “respecting the will of the American people and the law, to ensure that Dreamers have a permanent path to citizenship” in a statement on Friday. “Today’s wrongly-decided ruling brazenly flouts the law and precedent, as it casts a cloud of fear and uncertainty around the Dreamers, who are a pride of our nation,” she said. “As we await the swift stay that the law clearly requires, Democrats will continue to press for any and all paths to ensure that the Dream and Promise Act, now passed twice by the House, becomes the law of the land.”
Find Biden’s complete statement below:
“In 2012, the Obama-Biden Administration created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, which has allowed hundreds of thousands of young immigrants to remain in the United States, to live, study, and work in our communities. Nine years later, Congress has not acted to provide a path to citizenship for Dreamers.
Yesterday’s Federal court ruling is deeply disappointing. While the court’s order does not now affect current DACA recipients, this decision nonetheless relegates hundreds of thousands of young immigrants to an uncertain future. The Department of Justice intends to appeal this decision in order to preserve and fortify DACA. And, as the court recognized, the Department of Homeland Security plans to issue a proposed rule concerning DACA in the near future.
But only Congress can ensure a permanent solution by granting a path to citizenship for Dreamers that will provide the certainty and stability that these young people need and deserve. I have repeatedly called on Congress to pass the American Dream and Promise Act, and I now renew that call with the greatest urgency. It is my fervent hope that through reconciliation or other means, Congress will finally provide security to all Dreamers, who have lived too long in fear.”
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