End of Road for Dreamers: Federal Judge Rules DACA Program For Child Migrants is Illegal

A federal judge in Houston invalidated an Obama administration program that protected undocumented persons who entered the US when they were younger than 16 years old. The judge also stated that the process of accepting any new applications for the program will be paused.

Program for Child Migrants Ruled Illegal

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was blocked from moving forward. By terming the program illegal, US District Court Judge Andrew Hanen concluded that its creation violated federal administrative law.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Hanen ruled the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was unlawful because Congress never gave the executive branch the power to grant mass reprieves to immigrants who are in the US without authorization. "As popular as this program might be, the proper origination point for the DACA program was, and is, Congress," Judge Hanen, a George W. Bush appointee, wrote.

What is DACA and When It Was Created?

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a United States immigration policy that allows some individuals with unlawful presence in the United States after being brought to the country as children to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and become eligible for a work permit in the US.

Barack Obama
Barack Obama Flickr/Ennoti

This program was created in 2012 under then President Obama to protect the young immigrants. He issued the DACA executive order after the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act did not pass in Congress several times.

The young people impacted by DACA and the DREAM Act are often referred to as "Dreamers." DACA was intended to provide temporary reprieve to undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children. It's estimated there are about 650,000 people who hold DACA status, according to US Citizenship and Immigration Services.

In 2017, Trump Administration Ordered End to DACA

Donald Trump

On September 5, 2017, President Trump had ordered an end the DACA program. After the Trump administration ordered an end to DACA in 2017, several lawsuits were filed against the termination of DACA.

A federal judge in New York earlier this year then ordered the Trump administration to restore the program as enacted by President Barack Obama.

Mixed Reactions

The court's decision has provoked mixed reactions among the American citizens. Some argue that allowing the program to continue puts stress on state resources and creates a never-ending pool of applicants that further strain resources, including school districts, which are required to provide all children in the United States with equal access to public education.

But without the program, several DACA recipients said they would be unable to continue their education and careers, reported USA Today. Ricky Reyna, who is a software engineer in Dun & Bradstreet says, "I could probably go back to Mexico and find a job, but I would not make as much money as do here." Reyna told the American-Statesman earlier this year. He further added: "It also would be hard to adjust after being away for 15 years. All my friends have all moved on and changed so much since those days in middle school."