Appeals Court Rules Obama-Era DACA Program Unlawful
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 5: U.S. President Joe Biden and former President Barack Obama attend an event to mark the 2010 passage of the Affordable Care Act in the East Room of the White House on April 5, 2022 in Washington, DC. With then-Vice President Joe Biden by his side, Obama signed 'Obamacare' into law on March 23, 2010. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

A federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, is unlawful.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals stopped short of ordering the program dismantled, though it did affirm a lower court’s ruling that stopped the program from growing. Current members of DACA can stay within the program and receive its legal protections, according to The Wall Street Journal.

After failing to convince Congress to pass some form of comprehensive immigration reform, former President Barack Obama’s Department of Homeland Security created the DACA program in 2012 to protect migrants who arrived in the U.S. illegally as children from deportation. At the time of the program’s creation, the DHS estimated that 1.5 million migrants would qualify for the program. Roughly 600,000 have applied and been approved.

A three-judge panel on the Fifth Circuit found that the decade-old order violated federal procedures outlined in the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). The DHS program also ran afoul of federal immigration law by taking on authorities that Congress had not authorized the executive branch to take, the court said.

The Fifth Circuit remanded the case back down to the lower court to review DACA in light of recent attempts by the Biden administration to rectify DACA’s APA shortfalls.

President Joe Biden criticized the Fifth Circuit’s ruling in a statement, calling it a result of “the extreme agenda being pushed by MAGA-Republican officials.”

“I am disappointed in today’s Fifth Circuit decision holding that DACA is unlawful. The court’s stay provides a temporary reprieve for DACA recipients but one thing remains clear: the lives of Dreamers remain in limbo,” the president said in a statement.

“Today’s decision is the result of continued efforts by Republican state officials to strip DACA recipients of the protections and work authorization that many have now held for over a decade,” he continued. “And while we will use the tools we have to allow Dreamers to live and work in the only country they know as home, it is long past time for Congress to pass permanent protections for Dreamers, including a pathway to citizenship.”

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