DACA protections for immigrant youth may head to SCOTUS after conservative judge’s ruling
According to reports from the Atlantic, a court ruling is expected in a matter of days from a federal judge in Brownsville, Texas which could throw the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program into disarray, leaving it in effect in some areas of the country and erasing it from the books in others.
DACA was created by the Obama administration in 2012 and gives immigrants brought here as children a renewable two-year protection from deportation and lets them legally work here. Judge Andrew Hanen, a conservative appointee of President George W. Bush, could order the Trump administration to stop accepting DACA applications, a decision that would be squarely in conflict with those of three federal judges in California, New York, and Washington D.C.
Hanen previously ruled to block proposed DACA protections for undocumented parents during the Obama administration. If he rules to kill DACA applications now, then the Trump administration would have to decide which ruling they intend to follow. Of course, Trump is more than likely to choose the ruling they have actively pursued since Jeff Sessions issued a phase-out of the DACA program in September of 2017.
If that is indeed the case, then legal experts expect the Supreme Court to ultimately have to determine which ruling will take legal precedence.
David Leopold, an immigration attorney in Cleveland and a former president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, tells the Atlantic: “Technically, if you have a national injunction and the Ninth Circuit upholds the national injunction, then that would technically [apply to] the entire country. It would be a higher court, but Hanen is his own judge. He issues a contrary order, the question is: What does USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) do?”
There are also appeals in process in the Second, Fourth and Ninth Circuits, the rulings blocking the Trump administration’s phasing out of DACA in California, New York, and Washington D.C, but the Ninth Circuit is the only expected to make any decision soon. These rulings have granted some relief to more than 700,000 people who had been enrolled in the program upon arrival in the United States when they were under the age of 16, and have lived in America since 2007.
Sanaa Abrar, advocacy director for United We Dream, a group that advocates for the rights of immigrants, warns in an interview with the Atlantic, “It’s been devastating. People have been trying to figure out, ‘What protections do I have that I can actually still hold on to?… For us, the Hanen ruling is a big red flag that time is almost up for people to send their renewals, and at the point of a Hanen decision, people need to be sending their renewals out the door if they haven’t already applied.”