Dreamers Still in Peril as Court Focus Shifts to Texas Challenge

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Almost 700,000 undocumented immigrants the U.S. Supreme Court just protected from deportation now face the same threat, as a separate challenge led by Texas springs back into action.

The court ruled on Thursday that the Trump administration had sidestepped federal procedures in rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program that protects people who were brought into the U.S. as children. The move was “arbitrary and capricious” in violation of a federal law that governs administrative agencies, the court found.

The separate challenge, which has been simmering since 2018, argues the same in reverse -- that President Barack Obama exceeded his own authority by going around the rule when he implemented DACA in the first place.

Dreamers Still in Peril as Court Focus Shifts to Texas Challenge

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton was quick to underscore that point in the wake of Thursday’s ruling.

“We are disappointed” with the decision, Paxton said in a statement, “but it does not resolve the underlying issue that President Obama’s original executive order exceeded his constitutional authority.”

The federal judge in charge of the Texas challenge had deferred ruling on the Obama question until the Supreme Court issued its decision on the Dreamers, as they’re called. U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen on Thursday gave lawyers for both sides until July 24 to tell him how they think the decision affects the Texas case. He said he’d set a timetable for resuming the case after receiving those reports.

Hanen ruled in 2015 that Obama did skip required federal procedures, and usurped Congress’s authority over immigration, by issuing the executive order that protects Dreamers’ parents, a companion program known as DAPA.

In 2018, in a 117-page ruling, the judge declined to halt DACA protections on the emergency basis Texas requested because it would disrupt a popular program and suspend Dreamers’ ability to work and travel freely while the challenge plays out.

But he said he believed DACA was undermined by the same procedural flaws as DAPA. That leaves Dreamers back on uncertain legal ground when the Texas challenge resumes.

The case is Texas v. U.S., 1:18-068, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas (Brownsville).

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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