Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton will go to court on Wednesday to challenge the lawfulness of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which gives protection and work permits to undocumented immigrants who were brought into the United States as children.
Federal District Judge Andrew Hanen will hear the case of Texas v. Nielsen, in which six other states along with Texas will argue that the 2012 program instituted by the Obama administration is unconstitutional and causes “financial harm through healthcare, education and law enforcement costs.”
However, legal experts are skeptical that Paxton’s arguments will hold up. Texas is using the same arguments it used in 2014 to block the Deferred Action of Parents of Americans (DAPA) program.
“It’s not just speculative this time, it’s what these people have contributed in the time that they’ve had DACA,” Rocio Martinez, a Fort Worth immigration attorney from the Law Office of Francisco and Daniel Hernandez, said.
Martinez said that even if Hanen delivers an injunction against the program on Wednesday, there is a chance DACA will continue.
“The upside of the judge siding with the Texas Attorney General is that there would be a conflict between the federal courts because something similar to this has already been decided in other federal courts, so the Supreme Court would have to get involved in that situation,” she said. “The president can’t just pick and choose which one he’s going to listen to if there’s multiple decisions.”
DACA has benefited nearly 800,000 recipients in six years and around 124,000 in Texas. An estimated 7,700 live in Tarrant County. Ending the program could cost Texas $6.3 billion in GDP losses, according to a study by the Center for American Progress.
Not only would it take away the protection status, work permits and driver’s licenses of DACA recipients, but it would also have a lasting impact on the immigration system in the United States.
“The immigration courts all over the country are 700,000 cases behind,” Martinez said. “That’s something unreal, and if you’re adding [more than] 100,000 people to that, that you’re supposedly going to put in removal proceedings because they no longer have any status here, that would obviously saturate the courts significantly.”
Kathleen Campbell Walker, an attorney in El Paso and a former national president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said DACA recipients should continue to monitor these cases as they proceed.
“If the program ends, then those holding DACA status will need to consult with counsel about any options for relief from removal from the U.S.,” Walker said. “At present, those eligible for renewals should consider filing for renewal, if eligible.”
On Friday, U.S. District Judge John Bates ruled that the Trump administration must resume the DACA program in its entirety. The government has until Aug. 23 to appeal, but if the ruling goes into effect, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will have to accept new applications as well.
This is the third ruling this year to restore DACA since the administration ordered its end in September 2017, however the previous two only applied to renewal requests.
“A conclusory assertion that a prior policy is illegal, accompanied by a hodgepodge of illogical or post hoc policy assertions, simply will not do,” Bates wrote of the administration’s attempt to end the program in a 25-page opinion.