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Federal appeals court rules 2012 DACA memo unlawful and sends case back to consider Biden administration version


By Priscilla Alvarez, CNN

A federal appeals court largely upheld a district court ruling finding that the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program is unlawful but sent the case back to the lower court to decide the legality of a new rule fortifying the program.

DACA, created in 2012, was intended to provide temporary reprieve to undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children, a group often described as “Dreamers.” Many of them are now adults.

There are more than 611,000 immigrants enrolled in the program, according to US Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Wednesday’s ruling will not affect those currently in the program, but it will continue to block new applications.

Judge Andrew Hanen, of the Southern District of Texas, ruled in July 2021 that DACA was unlawful and blocked the government from approving new applications for the program. Hanen’s order, however, allowed the program to continue for current enrollees while the case is litigated.

The appeals court preserved the stay in its ruling Wednesday.

“We also recognize that DACA has had profound significance to recipients and many others in the ten years since its adoption. Given the ‘uncertainty of final disposition’ and the ‘inevitable disruption that would arise from a lack of continuity and stability,’ we preserve the stay as to existing recipients,” the ruling reads.

The Biden administration released a rule in August to “preserve and fortify” the DACA program, largely maintaining the criteria for the program. The federal appeals court acknowledged the new regulation in its ruling, saying the lower court should consider it.

“A district court is in the best position to review the administrative record in the rulemaking proceeding and determine whether our holdings as to the 2012 DACA Memorandum fully resolve issues concerning the Final Rule,” the ruling states.

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