Federal judge strikes down DACA – again

Learn more about Laura Collins.
Laura Collins
Director, Bush Institute-SMU Economic Growth Initiative
George W. Bush Institute

A federal district court has once again struck down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, continuing the pattern of uncertainty that DACA recipients have experienced repeatedly since the Trump Administration’s attempt to cancel the program in 2017.

DACA is the executive branch program that allows some Dreamers – immigrants brought here as children without legal immigration status – to gain limited protections and work permits. Hundreds of thousands of Dreamers who might otherwise qualify for DACA will continue to be without work authorization and protection from deportation.

The ruling: As in his past decisions, Judge Andrew Hanen said that the program is illegal, but the ruling allows current enrollees to renew their DACA status. Protections will continue for nearly 600,000 people, but new applications aren’t allowed.

Why this matters: Dreamers are fundamentally American in all ways except their passports, and they are important to our economy; it’s estimated that DACA recipients contribute $42 billion to U.S. GDP each year. Dreamers who currently have DACA protection are able to work, but they don’t have legal status or a path to a green card and then citizenship.

What’s next? While the program remains in place for now, it’s likely only a matter of time before the courts strike it down completely, leaving no protections for DACA recipients and no alternatives.

Bottom line: This is a problem only Congress can fix. Congress can and should provide a a permanent legislative solution for Dreamers. The American public agrees. Bipartisan legislation to provide a solution for Dreamers has been before Congress for more than 20 years. Executive actions like DACA are only half measures, as the executive branch can never provide the more permanent policy changes that legislation can. Congress must act with urgency.