On Friday, October 14th, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen of Houston extended his order protecting hundreds of thousands of Dreamers from being deported and blocking new applicants from the program.
Last year, Judge Hanen ruled that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, created by President Obama, was unlawful, but allowed the program to remain intact while the decision was appealed. Last week, he extended the ruling, thereby allowing the Department of Homeland Security to grant application renewals for those already in the program but blocking DHS from “granting DACA status for any new applicants.”
In August, the Biden Administration took steps to codify DACA and preserve the protections for undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children. The Department of Homeland Security announced a proposed rule that will go into effect on October 31st, 2022. According to the proposed rule, to qualify for DACA, individuals must have arrived in the US before their 16th birthday, have continuously resided in the US since June 15, 2007, are currently in school or have graduated, have not been convicted of a felony, and do not pose a threat to national security or public safety, among other criteria.
The Biden Administration has stressed that this proposed rule is not a substitute for congressional action on the issue. Congress has tried for years to pass immigration reform that would provide a pathway to citizenship; most recently, Democrats included such a proposal in the early versions of the most recent reconciliation package, an attempt that was halted by the Senate Parliamentarian as having an outsized political impact compared to its budgetary impact.
Top Democrats have stated an intention to try to pass legislation protecting “dreamers” during the Senate’s lame duck session after the election, but they have also recognized the difficulty in getting the necessary support from Republican Senators to be successful in passing such a bill, especially with only about three working weeks after the November elections.