A group of nine states, all led by Republicans, have requested a federal court in Texas to abolish the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Texas leads the coalition, which has asked the Southern District federal court to deem DACA “unlawful” and “unconstitutional,” as per court papers filed on Tuesday.
“The Court should declare it unlawful and unconstitutional, vacate it in its entirety, and permanently enjoin its implementation (with a prudent transition for existing DACA recipients),” the filing reads.
“This lawsuit is about the scope of executive power, not the wisdom of any particular immigration policy. No President can unilaterally override Congress’s duly enacted laws simply because he prefers different policy choices,” the states went on to say.
DACA was established in 2012 by the Obama administration to protect undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children from being deported.
It has been the subject of numerous legal challenges from conservative states and organizations.
The documents state that the program should not accept new applicants and in two years, should no longer approve renewal requests from current “Dreamers,” the terms given to immigrants hoping to benefit from DACA.
The Southern District court had previously blocked new applications for DACA at the request of these same states, ruling that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had violated the Administrative Procedure Act by implementing and operating the program.
Judge Andrew Hanen, who made the ruling, allowed current Dreamers to renew their status in 2021, as the DACA program was created by an Obama administration memo and not a formal rule.
In October, the Biden administration replaced the memo with a final regulation, which codified the DACA program and allowed new applicants.
The states have now asked Hanen to assess the Biden administration’s new regulation, claiming that it too is unlawful for the same reasons as the initial memo.
Data from September shows that nearly 600,000 active DACA recipients could be affected if the program is abolished.
“If there were ever any doubt that DACA’s central premise was false, it evaporated when the U.S. Supreme Court held that ‘the DACA Memorandum does not announce a passive non-enforcement policy.’ Rather, ‘it created a program for conferring affirmative immigration relief.’ That confirmed this Court’s prior determination that DACA ‘institute[d] a program that gives lawful presence, work authorization, and multiple other benefits to 1.5 million people,” the states added, citing the 2020 decision in Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of the University of California.