Federal Court Ruling on DACA Increases Need for Legislative Solution
On Friday July 16, Federal Judge Andrew Hanen of the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas ruled that DACA is an illegal program because its creation through DHS violated the Administrative Procedure Act by overriding the authorities of Congress regarding immigration.
However, Hanen also noted that the 700,000 DACA recipients that have already earned renewable legal status under the program, and their employers, communities, and loved ones, have come to rely on the DACA program. "It is not equitable for a government program that has engendered such significant reliance to terminate suddenly," said Hanen.
Therefore, Hanen ordered a "temporary stay" on his order of immediate vacatur and permanent injunction of DACA, meaning that DACA recipients can continue to renew their legal status and work permits- for now. Given that this stay is noted as temporary, Hanen has left federal courts' ability to terminate DACA program on the table following further review of its legal case by the Biden Administration and DHS, Hanen's court, the Fifth Circuit of Appeals, and the Supreme Court.
Hanen also issued an order of vacatur and remand on new and pending DACA applicants, meaning that as of now, any person formerly eligible for DACA that had not yet been approved for DACA may no longer obtain it.
By creating greater uncertainty for the fate of DACA, Hanen's ruling increases the urgency for lawmakers in Congress to pass a bipartisan legislative solution for DACA that will allow DACA recipients to obtain permanent legal status.
DACA allows unauthorized immigrants who came to the US as minors at least five years before June 15, 2012, to obtain temporary renewable legal status if they meet certain education requirements and do not commit crimes. By creating the only existing method for these individuals to obtain legal status and work permits, it has enabled them to go further in their careers and contribute more to our society. DACA takes them out of the underground economy and allows them to work for legitimate employers who pay payroll taxes, or to start a tax-paying business of their own. A New American economy study showed that over 93 percent of DACA eligible individuals were employed, and that they paid around $4 billion in federal and state taxes in 2017. This population of individuals that is largely of working age and willing to work is beneficial to the American economy that is currently being negatively impacted by workforce shortages and experiencing increases in costs of goods and services due to inflation.
74% of Americans favor legislation that would provide permanent legal status to immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally as children. Congress should pass legislation that not only allows DACA to continue, but that expands it to include immigrants that came to the US as minors more recently than 2007.
When it comes to passing a bill like the DREAM Act that would codify DACA, Republican lawmakers consider border security measures as a prerequisite. The large number of migrants crossing the border over this year show the federal government needs to increase the resources it is devoting to the border in order to achieve operational control over who and what is entering the US. Notably, the number of monthly southwest land border encounters by the CBP continued to increase in June, when in years prior to 2020, they began a seasonal decline in June. One solution that would improve the government's capacities to control the border and adjudicate immigration cases is the Bipartisan Border Solutions Act.
Republican and Democratic Lawmakers must work together to supply the 60 votes needed to pass an immigration bill in the Senate. A bill that combines the Bipartisan Border Solutions Act and the Dream Act would serve as a great starting point for bipartisan negotiations on an immigration bill to secure the border and properly address DACA.