Court of appeals orders new revision of the DACA program

A federal appeals court on Wednesday ordered a lower court to review changes by the administration of President Joe Biden to the DACA program, which prevents the deportation of hundreds of thousands of immigrants brought to the United States as children.

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals stated that a Texas federal judge must give a new review to the program after the modifications implemented in August.

For now, the ruling leaves the future of the program, called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), up in the air, since the current beneficiaries are protected, but new registrations are prohibited.

In a statement, Biden said he was “disappointed” with the ruling, noting: “The court order offers a temporary reprieve for DACA recipients but one thing is clear: The lives of the ‘dreamers’ continue in the limbo,” he said, referring to DACA recipients by the name by which they are commonly known, which was forged in the wake of the DREAM bill that never passed.

“And while we’ll use the tools we have to allow Dreamers to live and work in the only country they know as home, it’s about time Congress passed permanent protections for Dreamers, including options to naturalize.” added the president.

The activist group Families Belong Together declared in a statement: “It is time for Congress and Biden to keep their promise.”

winding road

The administration of former President Barack Obama implemented DACA, but its progress has been complicated by various challenges in federal courts.

Federal Judge Andrew Hanen in Texas declared DACA illegal last year. He determined that the program had not been subject to public notice and public comment periods as required by the Administrative Procedures Act. But he kept the program temporarily intact for current beneficiaries until the appeals process was resolved.

“Current DACA recipients can renew their status and apply for parole early, but the ruling continues to block new applicants from being granted DACA protections,” said the Immigrant Legal Resource Center. Immigrants), an activist organization, in a statement. The agency is one of several migrant rights advocates that on Wednesday reiterated its call for the Biden administration and Congress to protect DACA recipients.

Wednesday’s ruling by three New Orleans-based federal appeals court judges upholds the judge’s initial findings, but sends the case back to him for a look at a new government-issued version of the measure. of Biden at the end of August.

The new version takes effect on October 31.

“A district court is in the best position to review the administrative record in the rulemaking process,” states the opinion of 5th Circuit Judge Priscilla Richman, who was nominated for the post 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 rules are mostly technical and represent minimal substantive changes from the 2012 memo that created DACA, but was subject to public comment as part of the formal rulemaking process to improve its chances down the road. legal.

defense and attack

The 5th Circuit Court held a hearing in July in which the Justice Department, in alliance with the state of New Jersey, immigrant advocacy organizations and a coalition of large corporations including Amazon, Apple, Google and Microsoft, defended the Program. They argued that DACA recipients have become productive drivers of the American economy, maintaining and creating jobs, and spending money.

Eight Republican-leaning states have joined Texas in arguing that they are financially harmed by spending hundreds of millions of dollars on health care, education and other costs when immigrants are allowed to stay in the country illegally. They also argued that the White House exceeded its authority by granting immigration benefits that are the power of Congress.

DACA recipients have become an influential political force despite the fact that they cannot vote, but their efforts to get Congress to open a path to naturalization have failed.

Any imminent threat of losing work permits and leaving them open to deportation could pressure Congress to protect them, even with a provisional remedy.

The Biden administration disappointed some pro-DACA advocates with its conservative legal strategy of keeping the age of eligibility unchanged. DACA recipients had to have been in the country in June 2007, an increasingly difficult requirement to meet. The median age of DACA recipients was 28.2 years old at the end of March, compared to 23.8 years old in September 2017.

At the end of March, there were 611,270 people enrolled in DACA, including 494,350, or 81%, from Mexico, as well as large numbers of Guatemalans, Hondurans, Peruvians, and South Koreans.


  • DACA is expected to come before the Supreme Court for the third time.
  • In 2016, the highest court deadlocked in a 4-4 decision on expanding the program and on a parent-friendly version of it, upholding a lower court ruling that blocked benefits.
  • In 2020, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the Trump administration improperly ended DACA by failing to follow federal procedures, allowing it to remain in effect.