Appeals court panel casts doubt on DACA legality

Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) speaks during a news conference calling for bipartisan legislation to protect Dreamers outside the U.S. Capitol on May 18, 2022. | Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The federal appeals court is hearing a Texas-led challenge to the Obama-era program protecting migrants.

By Mohar Chatterjee | POLITICO

A panel of federal judges in New Orleans on Wednesday appeared unconvinced by the Justice Department’s arguments defending the legality of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, with the fate of nearly 600,000 so-called Dreamers hanging in the balance.

The three-judge panel is hearing appeals by the Biden administration, liberal states and individual DACA recipients to U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen’s decision a year ago that held DACA to be unlawful. Hanen’s 2021 ruling ordered the Department of Homeland Security to no longer approve new applicants to the program, which grants work permits and protection from deportation to young undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. However, the order allowed DHS to continue to process DACA renewals as the issue moved through the courts.

Wednesday’s arguments before the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals took place just over a decade after President Barack Obama created the DACA program through executive action. Much of the roughly 45-minute argument session was devoted to whether Texas and other states suing to block the program could show enough impact on them to proceed with the court case.

“The relevant question here for summary judgment is whether… [Texas] has shown at least a dollar of expenditures that would be remedied by the removal of DACA, and whether some individual who has received that sort of spending under DACA will leave the United States,” Texas Solicitor General Judd Stone II told the judges.

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