0731 GMT September 26, 2021
US District Judge Andrew Hanen sided with a group of states suing to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, arguing that it was illegally created by former president Barack Obama in 2012, Reuters reported.
Hanen found the program violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) when it was created but said that since there were so many people currently enrolled in the program – nearly 650,000 – his ruling would be temporarily stayed for their cases and their renewal applications.
"To be clear," the judge said, the order does not require the government to take "any immigration, deportation or criminal action against any DACA recipient".
He said the government could continue to receive new applications to the program, as ordered by a federal judge in a separate case, but that it could not approve them.
Cheska Mae Perez, a 23-year-old DACA recipient from the Philippines, said her 22-year-old brother and 20-year-old sister applied for DACA as soon as new applications were allowed following a court order in December 2020. Her brother received his approval a couple of weeks ago, she said, but her sister was still waiting.
Democratic US Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey wrote on Twitter that the ruling was not a surprise, "just a painful reminder that we need to stop relying on temporary immigration fixes".
"Congress must seize the moment and any and all opportunities to finally provide a pathway to legalization for millions of undocumented immigrants," he said.
Democratic President Joe Biden, who was vice president when Obama created the program, has said he wants to create a permanent pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients, known as "Dreamers".
Biden issued a memorandum on his first day in office directing the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to take "all actions he deems appropriate" to "preserve and fortify" the program, which former President Donald Trump, a Republican, tried to end.
The US Supreme Court last year blocked a bid by Trump to end DACA, saying that his administration had done so in an "arbitrary and capricious" manner.