As promised, Biden administration appeals Texas ruling making DACA unlawful

Biden promised in July the Department of Justice would challenge the decision.

September 11, 2021, 5:48 PM

As promised, the Biden administration is challenging a Texas ruling that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program is unlawful.

The Department of Justice filed a notice in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday to start the process to overturn the decision by U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen in favor of nine states led by Texas that found the creation of the DACA program violated federal administrative law.

Hanen’s decision prevents the government from granting any future DACA applications but does not affect application renewals or those who were "Dreamers" -- as those in the program are often called -- at the time of the ruling.

PHOTO: Protesters holding a sign that reads "DACA Is Not Enough" stand in front of the White House at a DACA rally in Lafayette Square Park in Washington, June 15, 2021.
Protesters holding a sign that reads "DACA Is Not Enough" stand in front of the White House at a DACA rally in Lafayette Square Park in Washington, June 15, 2021.
Zach Brien/NurPhoto via AP, FILE

When the ruling was issued in July, President Joe Biden promised his administration would appeal the decision, saying in a statement that, "while the court’s order does not now affect current DACA recipients, this decision nonetheless relegates hundreds of thousands of young immigrants to an uncertain future."

DACA was created in 2012 by the Obama administration as a way for undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. under the age of 16 to get authorized to work and avoid deportation for two years. Recipients can apply for renewal every two years. There are about 616,000 active DACA recipients in the U.S. as of March, according to U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services.

The Department of Homeland Security has continued to accept DACA applications, but in accordance with the ruling, it cannot grant any new DACA requests.

PHOTO: Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) protesters rally on Foley Square demanding citizenship now for all undocumented immigrants in New York, Aug. 17, 2021.
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) protesters rally on Foley Square demanding citizenship now for all undocumented immigrants in New York, Aug. 17, 2021.
LightRocket via Getty Images, FILE

Along with the Department of Justice, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, a nonprofit Latino legal civil rights organization, also filed an appeal on behalf of 22 DACA recipients.

PHOTO: Hina Naveed, DACA Recipient and New York Immigration Coalition Member, right, listens as Diana Bautista, DACA Applicant CHIRLA Youth Member, speaks on a virtual call with Vice President Kamala Harris in Washington, July 22, 2021.
Hina Naveed, DACA Recipient and New York Immigration Coalition Member, right, listens as Diana Bautista, DACA Applicant CHIRLA Youth Member, speaks on a virtual call as Vice President Kamala Harris meets with DACA recipients, Dreamers without DACA, and immigrant rights leaders in the Vice Presidents Ceremonial Office in the Roosevelt Room on the White House campus in Washington, July 22, 2021.
Los Angeles Times via Getty Images, FILE

"The ongoing failure of the Congress to act to provide permanent protection and a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients necessitates the filing of this appeal to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals," Thomas A. Saenz, the organization’s president and general counsel, said in a statement Friday. "There are strong legal grounds for a successful appeal because Judge Hanen failed to account for recent changes in the law governing several critical elements of the case."

Congress has received pressure from Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and Democratic lawmakers to create a legal pathway to citizenship for "Dreamers," and that pressure is likely to build as the case makes its way through the appeals process.

-ABC News' Quinn Owen and Justin Gomez contributed reporting.

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