Proponents of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), which has been a top story in the news on and off for almost two years, enjoyed a small victory recently when a federal judge in Texas declined to order a halt to the Obama-era program that has been fought tooth and nail by the Trump administration. But this victory is bittersweet for many who support DACA, a controversial program that’s been a hot topic for a while, especially since Donald Trump took office.
Judge Hanen’s Decision
On Friday, August 31, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen said he would not allow the federal government to stop the program that helps shield young immigrants from deportation. But for fans of DACA, the reason that Judge Hanen made this ruling is not really something to celebrate; the ruling came only due to the fact that Texas and six other states simply waited to long to ask for the preliminary injunction; the judge said it has not been proven that “…allowing the program to continue was causing irreparable harm.”
The judge made it clear that he questioned the legality of DACA but added that “more harm would be done…if they lost the program.” What makes this ruling even more interesting is that this judge has a history of ruling against DACA-related issues in the past, but because the injunction came too late, he must rule against Texas and the other conservative states making the request to halt the controversial program enacted by former President Barack Obama.
Judge Hanen continued to say he thought DACA was unconstitutional and that “If the nation truly wants to have a DACA program, it is up to Congress to say so.”
The lawsuit was filed in Texas due to Hanen’s history with DACA-related programs. The states hoped that the Judge would prevent DACA recipients from being able to renew their enrollment in the program. Those involved with the lawsuit thought that if Judge Hanen stopped enrollment renewal, then a conflict with three federal orders that require the government to accept the renewals would have been generated, and said conflict would have drawn the attention of the United States Supreme Court.
Clearly, their plan was foiled when Judge Hansen made his ruling; but, he also questioned the legality of the program, triggering the United States Department of Justice to commend Hanen for addressing the legality of DACA while he explained his ruling. Devin O’Malley, spokesman for the Justice Department said, “As the Justice Department has consistently argued, DACA is an unlawful attempt to circumvent Congress, and we are pleased the court agreed today.”
Sticking to the theme of DACA being unconstitutional, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said he was confident the courts would find DACA unconstitutional eventually and reiterated that the injunction was denied solely because the states waited too long (Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina, West Virginia, and, of course, Texas).