By KEVIN McGILL Associated Press
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A federal appeals court on Wednesday ordered a trial review of the Biden administration’s revisions to a program that prevents the deportation of hundreds of thousands of immigrants brought to the United States as children.
The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit said a federal district judge in Texas should re-examine the program following revisions adopted in August. The ruling, for now, leaves the future of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals up in the air.
“It appears that the status quo for DACA remains,” said Veronica Garcia, an attorney with the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, an advocacy organization.
DACA was adopted by the administration of former President Barack Obama and has had a rocky journey through federal court challenges.
Last year, Texas-based US District Judge Andrew Hanen declared DACA illegal. He found that the program had not been subject to the public notice and comment periods required by the Federal Administrative Procedures Act. But he left the program temporarily untouched for those already benefiting from it, pending the appeal.
Wednesday’s ruling by three New Orleans-based 5th Circuit judges confirms the judge’s initial conclusion. But he sends the case back to her to review a new version of the rule issued by the Biden administration in late August. The new rule goes into effect on October 31.
“A district court is in the best position to review the administrative record in the rulemaking process,” said the opinion of Fifth Circuit Chief Judge Priscilla Richman, a nominee to the court by President George W. Bush. The other members of the panel were Justices Kurt Engelhardt and James Ho, both appointed by President Donald Trump.
The 453-page new rule is largely technical and represents few substantive changes from the 2012 memo that created DACA, but it was subject to public comment as part of a formal rulemaking process aimed at improving its chances of survival. legally.
In July arguments in the Fifth Circuit, the US Justice Department defended the program, allied with the state of New Jersey, immigrant advocacy organizations and a coalition of dozens of powerful corporations, including Amazon, Apple , Google and Microsoft. They argued that DACA recipients have grown to become productive drivers of the American economy, keeping and creating jobs and spending money.
Texas, along with eight other Republican-leaning states, argued that they are financially harmed, incurring hundreds of millions of dollars in health care, education and other costs, when immigrants are allowed to remain in the country illegally. They also argued that the White House exceeded its authority by granting immigration benefits that Congress must decide.
DACA is widely expected to go to the Supreme Court for a third time. In 2016, the Supreme Court deadlocked 4-4 over expanded DACA and a version of the program for parents of DACA recipients, upholding a lower court decision to block benefits. In 2020, the high court ruled 5-4 that the Trump administration improperly ended DACA by failing to follow federal procedures, allowing it to remain in place.
DACA recipients have become a powerful political force despite the fact that they cannot vote, but their efforts to get a path to citizenship through Congress have repeatedly fallen short. Any imminent threat of losing work authorization and exposing themselves to deportation could pressure Congress to protect them, even as a stopgap measure.
The Biden administration disappointed some DACA advocates with its conservative legal strategy of keeping age eligibility unchanged. DACA recipients had to have been in the United States in June 2007, a requirement increasingly out of reach. The median age of a DACA recipient was 28.2 years old at the end of March, compared to 23.8 years old in September 2017.
There were 611,270 people enrolled in DACA at the end of March, including 494,350, or 81%, from Mexico and large numbers from Guatemala, Honduras, Peru and South Korea.
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