DACA remains intact, as case challenging legality is sent back to lower Texas court


The Obama era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival, or DACA, will live to see another day as a federal appeals court sent a case challenging the legality of the immigration policy back to a lower Texas court. This week’s legal challenge isn’t the first for DACA, but instead just the latest in line of a long-standing string of battles. The policy, announced by former President Barack Obama in 2012, allows some individuals with unlawful presence, but who were brought to the United States as children, to receive a two-year period of deferred action from deportation. The policy also makes these individuals eligible for a work permit in the U.S. for the duration of their deferment.

In 2014, upon Obama’s announcement of his intent to expand DACA, to cover additional undocumented immigrants, several states sued to prevent its expansion. This initial suite of lawsuits set into motion a string of legal challenges that continue to confront the policy’s impact on the country’s economy, political landscape, and demographic makeup among other concerns.

This week, a three-judge panel in the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that it agreed with a lower court’s ruling, stating the implementation of DACA in 2012 was illegal. While the appeals court ruled that it would keep the program intact, it also ruled that in the meantime, it would send the case back to the lower court to analyze the Biden administration’s August codification of DACA - a move the administration made in anticipation of a loss in the appeals court.

Wednesday’s ruling means current DACA recipients will be able to renew their status but still prevents first-time applicants from being accepted into the program. Since its 2012 inception, DACA has approved more than 800,000 applications, including over 100,000 recipients living in Texas.