This is not a surprise to most in the legal community, but nevertheless, to the profound disappointment of many advocates and DACA holders, a federal judge in Texas has once again ruled that the DACA program is unlawful and violates the Administrative Procedures Act. This is the same judge, The Honorable Andrew Hanen, who previously held the program to be unlawful. This most recent court decision sprang out of litigation spawned by President Biden’s administrative attempt to fortify the program through federal policy. Fortunately, the ruling is expected to be appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States.
In the meantime, what does this practically mean for current DACA applicants and those wishing to apply for DACA? Practically speaking, this ruling does not dramatically change the current landscape of DACA. Those eligible for renewal who wish to receive a renewal of their DACA status should still submit their applications to USCIS, which should still adjudicate and render a decision on their applications. However, for those individuals who currently do not have DACA and do not qualify to submit a renewal application, the options are more limited. Those individuals seeking to apply for an initial grant can still submit their applications to USCIS. However, as it currently done right now, once USCIS accepts these applications, they will essentially be put on hold or in suspension. No decision will be rendered on these types of applications, at least not until there is a final resolution in the courts.
Given the uncertain fate of the DACA program, individuals—whether they have DACA or not—should give consideration to legal alternatives to preserving their stay here. Adjustment of status, consular processing with a waiver, or even applying for a humanitarian- based benefit other than DACA may be worth looking into. For more information or help, please give our office a call.