On Friday , a federal judge in Texas ruled the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DAC) program illegal. The US District Judge Andrew Hanen of Texas’ Southern District made uncertainty in the lives of hundreds of thousands of young immigrant families.

However, DACA recipients will be allowed to remain in the program for the moment, even though the judge has stopped the government’s approval of applications from new participants. Here’s a breakdown of his decision.
In 2012, the Obama administration created DACA.
This program provides undocumented immigrants who came to the US to be children protected from deportation and certain authorizations to work in America. Eligible applicants must have been in the US since June 15, 2007, and arrived before 16 years old. The policy was enacted by the Department of Homeland Security in 2012. They must have been at least 30 years old when they were eligible. The Department of Homeland Security requires recipients to renew their protections at least every two years. This program does not provide permanent protection nor a path to citizenship.
The Trump administration attempted unsuccessfully to repeal it. However, President Joe Biden has promised to strengthen it. After Hanen had previously stated that the Obama administration did not follow all administrative procedures when launching DACA, his administration has taken steps to ensure DACA is subject to a more stringent regulatory process.

What did Judge Hanen do in his time?

Hanen declared DACA illegal because he found it violated the Administrative Procedure Act. This law dictates how agencies must proceed to implement policies. Hanen decided to not immediately strike down DACA in its entirety but to hold on to certain aspects of his decision while the case is being litigated so that the government can look into making any changes.

Is this a sign that DACA recipients may lose their jobs or be deported?

No. No. Hanen has stayed his order regarding DACA recipients. These recipients can renew their DACA status every two years as long as the stay is in place. DACA recipients will be allowed to continue working legally and protected from deportation.

Who is it affecting?

No new applicants. A federal judge in New York ordered that DACA applicants must be accepted by the federal government. Many people who are eligible have made applications since then. However, the majority of them still need approval due to a backlog accumulated during the coronavirus epidemic. According to Thomas Saenz (president and general counsel for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund), Friday’s decision prevents those applications from being granted, even though they were submitted before the ruling. MALDEF, a Latino civil rights organization, is representing DACA recipients in this case.

What next?

Lawyers representing DACA recipients stated Friday that they are currently assessing the next steps. Both the New Jersey administration and Biden could appeal for DACA protection.
The court order issued in December in New York by the federal government directing it to accept DACA applications is complicating matters. This order appears to be in tension with Hanen’s Friday ruling that the administration could not grant them.
The larger picture: Hanen’s order can be appealed to the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals. This is a conservative appels court. DACA’s defenders face a conservative majority, which includes three justices who ruled the program illegal in a previous case.