Federal judge declines to shut down DACA but leaves its fate uncertain

 young boy holds a sign during a protest September 10, 2017 in Los Angeles, California against efforts by the Trump administration to phase out DACA.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen on Friday ruled against Texas and seven other states in a suit asking for an immediate hold on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the Obama administration's program to delay deportation of young immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

DACA critics were hopeful Hanen would take their side, as three years ago he ruled against another Obama-era program, Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA), that offered similar respite for parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents. President Trump rescinded both programs, though, of the two, DACA's end has been the subject of far more protests and court battles.

Hanen's Friday ruling said Texas is correct that former President Obama did not have legal authority to introduce DACA via executive order, but he cited the years-long delay in seeking this injunction as his rationale for denying it. "The states could have brought a lawsuit against the entire program in 2012 or anytime thereafter," he wrote.

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Both sides of the suit hailed Hanen's ruling as a win. DACA supporters praised his recognition "that the balance of possible injuries and the public interest weigh heavily in favor of allowing DACA renewals to continue." But Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said Hanen's agreement about DACA's illegitimacy as the product of an executive order rather than a bill passed by Congress makes him "very confident that DACA will soon meet the same fate" as DAPA.

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Bonnie Kristian

Bonnie Kristian was a deputy editor and acting editor-in-chief of TheWeek.com. She is a columnist at Christianity Today and author of Untrustworthy: The Knowledge Crisis Breaking Our Brains, Polluting Our Politics, and Corrupting Christian Community (forthcoming 2022) and A Flexible Faith: Rethinking What It Means to Follow Jesus Today (2018). Her writing has also appeared at Time Magazine, CNN, USA Today, Newsweek, the Los Angeles Times, and The American Conservative, among other outlets.