What you need to know about the recent DACA ruling and its effects

Texas Judge, Andrew Hanen, who made the recent ruling against DACA pictured next to protesters in support of DACA and holding signs that read, “Defend Dreamers.”


This summer, a Texas judge made a ruling stating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is illegal and ordered government to cease processing new applications at this time.

The ruling stated that public comment was never taken into account for DACA, which makes it a violation of federal rulemaking. The judge who made the ruling, Judge Andrew Hanen, argued that President Obama exceeded his power by creating the program.

At the same time, smaller courts across the nation have the potential to make decisions against DACA recipients, using Judge Hanen’s ruling as support. There is a lot of uncertainty around how the ruling can and/or will be applied at lower-level courts, if at all. Let’s break down what DACA is and how it may affect you.


What is DACA?

DACA is the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and it has protected around 800,000 undocumented young adults and children from deportation from the US. Specifically, it has allowed many children who were brought illegally into the US (or were of unlawful status at the time) to stay and secure work authorization. While the recipients, alternatively known as “Dreamers,” are not official legal citizens, the program allows them to apply for a driver’s license, social security number, and a work permit.

The program was started during the Obama Administration back in 2012. In the past decade, it has faced many legal battles. This ruling is not entirely new for the program in terms of obstacles faced along the way of its inception. At G&A, we do not believe this ruling should discourage for beginning the process of applying for DACA or renewing your application if you have been granted DACA in the past.


Who will be affected by this ruling?

Fortunately, current program recipients will not be affected by this ruling and can even continue to renew their DACA status. Similarly, if you have a pending DACA application (meaning you applied before the ruling became public), your application will still be processed for the time being. The Department of Homeland Security is temporarily not allowed to approve new applications for DACA. In addition, if a person’s DACA status has been expired for over a year, they will be considered a first-time applicant and their application will be placed on hold.

This is not the first time DACA has been met with backlash. The Trump Administration had stopped processing DACA applications before and later resumed processing them last winter, creating a major rise in cases in December and severely affected backlog. Current new applicants will be most affected by the recent ruling, since already there was backlog in cases, and now there is a full pause in accepting new applications once again.


What are the next steps?

Recently, the White House announced that the government will petition Judge Hanen’s decision against DACA. The Biden administration also announced that the Department of Homeland Security plans to release a proposed rule concerning DACA shortly.

Additionally, the Biden Administration pledged to challenge the decision at the US Court of Appeals’ 5th circuit, which is where the Texas district court is located. This case could even be taken up to the Supreme Court. Once more information is published on this progressing story, we will update the blog accordingly. Please check in periodically if this information affects you or a loved one.


This blog post was written by our Summer 2021 intern, Sami Semiatin. We hope this blog has been useful and informational for you. If you find yourself affected by this ruling, you are more than welcome to reach out to our firm. If you’d like to discuss details of DACA, if you are eligible for the program, if you are worried about your status or potential for first-time or renewal applications, and so on, please reach out to us and we can connect you with a member of our staff. We would be glad to assist you whether or not you are already a client with our firm. Please give us a call at our Pittsburgh office at 412-258-8080, our Philadelphia office at 215-982-2381, or schedule a free consultation on our site using this link. We look forward to working with you.

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