Protesters hold illuminated signs during a rally in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA) or the Dream Act outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC, January 18, 2018.
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A federal judge in South Texas on Friday ordered the Biden administration to stop approving new applications for the Obama-era immigration program that protected hundreds of thousands of young immigrants from deportation.
The order stated that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA, “was created in violation of the law and its existence is against the law”.
But current recipients will not be immediately deprived of their status due to the order, the judge found.
The verdict, which jeopardizes the program President Joe Biden sought to preserve, came when news outlets reported arrests on the US-Mexico border, the highest in more than a decade.
Former President Donald Trump had attempted to end DACA but his efforts were blocked in 2020 by the Supreme Court, which ruled 5-4 that his order to end the program was unlawfully “arbitrary and capricious”.
In a five-page order on Friday afternoon, US District Judge Andrew Hanen stated, “As of that date, the United States, its departments, agencies, officials, agents and employees are hereby prohibited from administering the DACA program.”
These companies are also prohibited from re-implementing the program without complying with another law that regulates the federal regulatory process, according to the Hanen order.
The White House and Department of Homeland Security did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.
The DACA program, which was launched in 2012 by a memorandum from then President Barack Obama’s head of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, is “illegally implemented,” according to the judge’s order.
But with hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients now relying on DACA, Hanen’s order stated that “it is not fair for a government program that has generated so much trust to suddenly end.”
“Nothing in this injunction should be construed as directing the DHS or any other government agency to cancel or otherwise terminate DACA status for any person who is currently a DACA recipient in good standing,” Hanen wrote .
“Also, nothing in this injunction requires the DHS or the Department of Justice to take immigration, deportation, or prosecution against a DACA recipient, claimant, or other person who would otherwise not be caught,” he wrote.
Omar Jadwat, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said in a statement that Hanen’s judgment “is wrong and open to appeal.”
Jadwat called on Congress by a Democratic majority to offer the “Dreamers” and other undocumented people in the US a route to citizenship
“The future of dreamers shouldn’t be in the hands of the courts,” he said.