A federal judge in Texas ruled on Friday that the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was illegally created, and he ordered the government to stop approving new applications for the program, which grants children brought to the U.S. illegally work permits and protection from deportation.
U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen, however, stayed his order for those already in the program, known as DACA, stopping short of shutting the program down entirely and yanking protections from the more than 600,000 young immigrants who are part of it. The government may continue to process DACA renewals, the judge said, as it tries to “remedy the legal defects” of the program.
Hanen, a Republican appointee, was widely expected to strike down DACA, and his ruling is the latest in a yearslong saga over the legality of the program that has thrown DACA recipients into limbo.
His ruling stems from a challenge from Texas and other Republican attorneys general who argue that the program was illegally created and is an overreach of executive authority.
The ruling is not connected to previous efforts by the Trump administration to shut down the program and subsequent legal challenges to those efforts. The Supreme Court ruled last summer that the Trump administration violated administrative law when it ended the program; during the legal proceedings, the government was ordered to issue DACA renewals, but it did not accept new applications.
The Biden administration is expected to immediately appeal Friday’s decision. The ruling comes as President Joe Biden and Democrats in Congress press for a legislative solution for so-called Dreamers in the DACA program, including pathways to permanent residency and citizenship.
DACA was created by the Department of Homeland Security in 2012. DACA recipients must meet stringent qualifications, and they are in turn granted protections to live and work in the U.S. without threat of deportation.
He was a prominent senator who wanted to be the Democrats’ presidential nominee, but ended up having to settle for being vice president to a younger, charismatic up-and-comer in the party. That president gave him an enhanced role as second-in-command, giving the vice president skills he later used when he took the role as commander-in-chief.
As president, he wanted to pass a piece of civil rights legislation seen as critical to ensuring equality for Black voters at the ballot box, and he used what was called the “treatment” to get skittish members of Congress on board.
That was President Lyndon B. Johnson, who used both his own relationships on Capitol Hill and the unique influence of the Oval Office to get done what had appeared nearly impossible – convincing Congress, where pivotal leadership roles were held by segregationists – to pass the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
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More than a half century later, President Joe Biden is faced with a similar situation. As Republican-led state legislatures pass dozens of restrictive voting laws – making it harder to vote, especially, for minorities and the poor, critics say – the president is under enormous pressure to pressure Congress to thwart those new laws with sweeping federal standards on voting rights. But can Biden channel his inner LBJ to make it happen?
Biden surely has advantages LBJ had – a deep knowledge of the Senate, its rules and its personalities, experts note. But the president also lacks assets Johnson enjoyed, from the transitional (Democrats held wide majorities in Congress in the 60s) to the verging-on-anachronistic, the mystique and intimidation of the office of the presidency.
That “bully pulpit” presidents have used to rally American voters and with them, lawmakers, to support big policy agendas? It’s crumbling, deteriorating under the heavy weight of social media platforms that give everyone a chance to call themselves leaders or journalists.
Political Cartoons on Joe Biden