(Last updated September 14, 2023) – On Wednesday, September 13, Judge Andrew Hanen, a federal judge in Texas, ruled against the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. In his forty page decision, he found that the new DACA regulation proposed under the Biden Administration last year did not significantly differ from the 2012 DACA program and therefore, in his opinion, is unlawful. This decision is expected to be appealed first to the Fifth Circuit and then will likely end up at the Supreme Court.
Back in 2021, the state of Texas sued the U.S. government arguing that DACA, as it was created in 2012 by the Obama Administration, was unlawful. In 2022, Judge Hanen released his initial ruling agreeing with this argument, but the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sent the case back to Hanen, saying he should consider whether a new rule issued by the Biden Administration impacts his findings. This week’s decision was Judge Hanen’s final ruling.
What does this mean?
While he ruled against the program, Judge Hanen also ruled that people who currently have DACA can continue to renew their DACA. However, the government will not process first-time applications. Applications for Advance Parole will also continue to be processed and people who have been approved to travel with Advance Parole can do so.
We stand in solidarity with United We Dream, Make the Road New York, NAKASEC, and UndocuBlack in condemning this decision. Sadly, our community has grown accustomed to political battles and policy decisions like this one that destabilize our lives and treat us like we don’t matter. But just because something has become familiar does NOT make it okay. We are all worthy of safety, stability, and the right to thrive—regardless of our status.
We also want to acknowledge that DACA was never a permanent solution, nor was it an option available to all members of our community. For those who were shut out of DACA from the beginning, the injustice of this week’s ruling is nothing new. Together we will keep fighting for permanent, comprehensive, and inclusive immigration reform.
There is a lot we can’t control, but we can assert agency over our lives and reclaim our power. We will not wait for the government to humanize us. We will not defer our dreams or our joy!
What can I do?
If you are undocumented:
- Watch our UndocuThrive Webinar Series, which is designed to prepare our entire community—including those with DACA and those without it—for the future. Throughout the series, we share information and resources that will help you better understand the many legal, educational, mental health, and entrepreneurial opportunities at your disposal.
- Talk to a trusted legal service provider. Learn how the changes to the DACA program may impact you. You can find a legal service provider at immigrationlawhelp.org or ailalawyer.com.
- If you have DACA, renew it. If you need financial assistance to pay for your renewal, check out some of these resources:
- Illinois-specific renewal fee support: icirr.org/daca-fees
- Nationwide DACA renewal fee support: unitedwedream.org/resources/about-the-daca-renewal-fund
- CA-specific renewal fee support: https://www.cdss.ca.gov/Portals/9/Immigration/DNAF-DACA%20Contact%20List_ADA.pdf?ver=2022-03-01-143016-533
- Check out our entrepreneurship resources to learn how everyone, regardless of status, can leverage their skills, knowledge, and experience to generate income as a freelancer or business owner.
- Join our Coping With Uncertainty Support Group facilitated by DACAmented licensed marriage and family therapist, Jose Perez. This group is created to arm undocumented people with tools for navigating the stress and anxiety of living with uncertainty related to their status. Subscribe here to get notified when registrations open.
- Access mental health resources to process your emotions, stay grounded, and identify tangible next steps.
If you’re an ally:
- Donate! Your support can make it possible for us to keep providing our many programs and services to undocumented folks.
- Speak up! Use your platforms to condemn this decision and demand a pathway to comprehensive immigration reform for ALL undocumented people.
- Stay connected! We are not in this fight alone. Follow organizations like ILRC, Make the Road New York, NAKASEC, NILC, UndocuBlack, and United We Dream who are doing amazing work supporting undocumented people to thrive.