Effort to Undo DACA Program Goes Before Texas Federal Judge Tuesday

Texas has more than 100,000 DACA beneficiaries, the second-highest in the country, with nearly 35,000 in just the Dallas area alone

NBCUniversal, Inc.

The latest effort to undo the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, goes before a federal judge Tuesday in Houston.

The outcome of that judge's decision could impact more than 600,000 DACA beneficiaries across the country, also known as "Dreamers."

It was just in June that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the program continuing despite President Donald Trump’s attempts to end it.

Tuesday's hearing is the latest development in a 2018 lawsuit brought against the federal government by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

He's joined by eight other states in the suit, which argues they will face "irreparable harm" if the program is allowed to continue. The suit claims the states are bearing extra costs from providing health care, education and law enforcement protection to DACA recipients.

Federal judge Andrew Hanen will decide whether or not he agrees with that claim enough to make a ruling that would support the end of the program. In the summary judgment hearing, both sides are expected to ask the judge to side with them instead of moving forward with a full hearing.

Southern Methodist University law professor Eric Cedillo, who specializes in immigration, said there's also a chance the case could be dismissed.

“The biggest reason is that the states don’t have a standing to bring this action because they haven’t really been hurt, they can’t quantify their hurt in any way. And quite honestly, it’s been a boon to many of these states. If you got down to brass tacks, some of these DACA recipients are doctors and lawyers and teachers and frontline workers," he explained. “People are graduating literally from ivy league schools who do not have work authorizations and can do nothing with that degree until they have the ability to work appropriately."

Texas has more than 100,000 dreamers, the second-highest in the country, with nearly 35,000 in just the Dallas area alone.

The DACA program was created through executive action by former President Barack Obama in 2012. It's open to undocumented immigrants who came to the country before they turned 16 and who were 30 or younger as of June 2012, giving them the opportunity to be here properly in the U.S., with a social security number and a two-year work permit.

Renewals have kept them here ever since but Congress has yet to pass comprehensive immigration reform to give the DACA recipients a more permanent resolution.

“This all has to do with Congress, Congress needs to act. The Dream Act has been before congress about every year since at least 2000 or 2001," said Cedillo.

He believes Judge Hanen might take some time on his decision and could hold off on a ruling after the hearing Tuesday.

"But I don’t think he’s going to stop the program. If he did, I think it would be immediately appealed through the 5th circuit and on up, because just too many people benefit from it and quite honestly if this were to end or their rights were taken away, it would be a really bad thing for the economy, especially during this pandemic

Cedillo said Judge Hanen has previously expressed some reservations about whether or not former President Obama had the executive authority to create DACA, but he's also shot down attempts to halt the program in the past.

Whatever happens Tuesday might point to what happens in January when the Biden administration takes office and the senate runoff in Georgia determines if the Republicans or the Democrats take over the senate.

“There is a whole lot on the line right now and I think we will hopefully see some clear objectives with one, when the judge rules. Two, when the Senate figures out who is going to control the Senate and then of course, when Joe Biden takes out of office in January and talks about what he is going to do for immigration over these first 100 days," Cedillo said.

Contact Us