Many immigrants to the United States face an uphill battle as they begin a new life in this country. Though these challenges are not new, a recent court ruling has made things increasingly more difficult for people who have immigrated to the U.S. The DACA program, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, has been a valuable resource for immigrants.
However, a U.S. District Judge recently declared DACA illegal. Further decisions after anticipated appeals will come from the U.S. Supreme Court.
A Big Blow for Immigrants
In 2012, then-U.S. President Barack Obama created DACA to help protect immigrants who came to the country as children. The program defers the removal of immigrants for up to years and allows them to become eligible for work authorization to remain in the U.S.
However, those who have received DACA aid now face a significant amount of uncertainty. With the recent ruling, immigrants in Houston, Texas, and elsewhere now face the prospect of deportation, which would uproot lives they have labored to build in the U.S.
What the Ruling Means
Texas, along with eight other states— Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina, West Virginia, Kansas, and Mississippi—sued the government and the DACA program. In September 2023, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen sided with those nine states, authorizing a stop to those receiving DACA benefits. Though appeals are expected, Hanen’s ruling disallows any additional applications.
However, those who have been the beneficiaries of the program may continue to be so throughout the appeals process. As expressed by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the benefits of those who receive DACA aid “will remain in effect and will expire according to their existing terms.”
If appeals fail, DACA recipients stand to lose health care, education, and other benefits. They also could be deported.
DACA Recipients Continue the Fight
Fortunately, DACA recipients still have a glimmer of hope that they can remain in the U.S. Appeals are ongoing, and President Joe Biden has pleaded with Congress to pass permanent aid for immigrants who have received DACA assistance.
The program has been before the Supreme Court before. In 2016, there was a 4-4 decision on expanding DACA to include parents of its recipients as those who could receive benefits. Four years later, the Supreme Court declared that President Donald Trump had improperly terminated the program, ruling that it should remain in effect.
There was a case last year, in the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, Louisiana, that deemed DACA illegal. However, the Biden administration made changes to the program, and its revisions went to Hanen for review.
If you have been receiving aid from DACA, this court ruling poses some difficulties and bleak prospects for you. However, you have options and protections. You should next speak to an immigration lawyer for guidance on what you should do next.
Schedule a consultation with an attorney in Houston today so you can move forward with peace of mind and an understanding of what you can do next. Our experienced immigration attorney will work to protect your interests.