A federal judge on Friday suspended the program that protects undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children, finding the Obama administration unlawfully created it.

The ruling by Judge Andrew Hanen of the U.S. District Court for southern Texas temporarily bars the federal government from approving new Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program applications. Current DACA recipients will be allowed to remain and work in the U.S. for now.

His decision stems from a lawsuit filed by the state of Texas challenging the program, which former President Obama created in 2012 through an executive order.

Hanen sided with Texas, finding Obama’s Department of Homeland Security did not properly develop the regulations that govern the program.

“The government has no legitimate interest in the continuation of an illegally implanted program,” wrote U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen in his ruling.

The Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program allows undocumented immigrants to live, work and attend college in the country. About 200,000 DACA recipients, also known as Dreamers, live in California. Nearly 800,00 DACA recipients live in the U.S.

Nearly 57,000 DACA recipients in the state are considered essential workers, according to the Center for American Progress.

President Donald Trump sought to end the program during his administration, but states including California sued to block. The U.S. Supreme Court a year ago upheld DACA, rejecting Trump’s attempt to repeal it.

Several immigrant advocates condemned Hanen’s ruling and urged Congress to pass a law that would protect DACA recipients.

Through a statement, Greisa Martinez Rosas, executive director of United We Dream, urged Democrats to create a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

“Today’s ruling is evidence that DACA is not enough. The program has always been temporary, leaving hundreds of thousands of lives vulnerable to the next attack,” she said.

Todd Schulte, president of FWD.us, a pro-immigration lobbying group, said he was deeply disappointed by the ruling.

“While today’s ruling does not change the fact that existing DACA recipients … can renew, it is devastating that tens of thousands of new DACA applicants who have submitted their applications will be barred from getting protections from deportation and work authorization,” he said.

A statewide Public Policy Institute of California survey in 2020 found that 81% of likely California voters were in favor of the DACA protections offered to Dreamers.

The survey also revealed that the DACA program had bipartisan support from the majority of likely Democratic and Republican voters, 94% and 62%, respectively.


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