Texas Federal Court Rules on DACA

In The News
July 21, 2021

On July 16, a federal judge in Texas ruled that Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is unlawful, but allowed it to continue for current recipients. DACA allows certain individuals who came to the United States as children, commonly known as Dreamers, to receive deferred action from deportation and become eligible for a work permit in the United States. U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen’s ruling permits the continued processing of DACA renewals but does not allow for any new applications to be granted. In Judge Hanen’s 77-page ruling, he concludes that DACA violates the Administrative Procedure Act. His ruling comes in response to a Texas-led, multi-state challenge to the legality of DACA. The case is known as Texas v. United States. Ropes & Gray, together with MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund), represents 22 DACA recipients who intervened in the case. The attorneys argued that the states failed to show injury from DACA’s implementation and that the initiative is a lawful exercise of presidential discretion. 

Douglas Hallward-Driemeier, chair of the Appellate and Supreme Court practice and pro bono co-counsel in this matter, said: “While there was much about the court’s substantive analysis with which we disagree, we are heartened that Judge Hanen recognized the significant reliance interests of DACA recipients and accepted our request that any order setting aside DACA be stayed for current DACA recipients so they can continue to benefit from DACA, and so that their families and communities can continue to benefit from all that they contribute.” 

MALDEF President and General Counsel Thomas A. Saenz said: “This case should never have been filed, and should never have progressed beyond its filing. Current DACA recipients remain fully protected, but the decision threatens hundreds of thousands of others who should also be protected as they continue to contribute to the betterment of our nation. The decision was plainly determined by the judge’s views of many years ago, and the decision fails to reconcile important recent developments in the law of standing and of presidential authority; it therefore presents numerous grounds for potentially successful appeal.” 

The Ropes & Gray team included litigation & enforcement associates Emerson Siegle (Washington, D.C.), Philip Ehrlich (Chicago), and Krystal Vazquez (New York).