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GOP-led states call on court to shut down DACA

A coalition of nine Republican-led states on Tuesday asked a federal court in Texas to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which shields “Dreamers” from deportation.

The DACA program was implemented under the Obama administration in 2012 as a way to protect undocumented immigrants who were brought into the U.S. as children. Since its inception, it has faced regular legal challenges from conservative groups and states.

This coalition, which is led by Texas, is calling on the Southern District federal court to declare DACA “unlawful” and “unconstitutional,” according to court documents filed on Tuesday. The filings state that DACA should be prevented from accepting any new applicants and, in two years, prevented from approving renewal requests from existing Dreamers.

The Southern District court, at the request of the same group of states, had previously blocked new applications for the program, ruling that “with the creation of DACA and its continued operation,” the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) violated the Administrative Procedure Act.

However, the judge in question, Andrew Hanen, still allowed for current Dreamers to renew their status in the 2021 ruling.

Hanen’s ruling at the time was based largely on the fact that the DACA program was created by a memo under the Obama administration and that it was not a formal rule. In August, DHS issued a final regulation to replace the memo and codify the DACA program and allow new applicants starting in October.

The group of states has now asked Hanen to review the Biden administration’s new regulation, claiming that this new move is also unlawful for the same reasons the initial memo was.

“The Final Rule—as the latest manifestation of the DACA program—is substantively unlawful for the same reasons as the DACA Memorandum. The Court should declare it unlawful and unconstitutional, vacate it in its entirety, and permanently enjoin its implementation (with a prudent transition for existing DACA recipients)” the filing concludes.

As of September, there are nearly 600,000 active DACA recipients whose benefits could be at risk if the program is struck down, according to federal data.