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Texas Injunction Temporarily Halts Expansion of DACA

| Feb 8, 2024 | Firm News

What’s happening?

A federal judge in Texas issued a temporary injunction Monday that will halt President Obama’s executive actions.  The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was supposed to begin accepting applications for the expansion of the DACA program starting February 18.  DHS will not begin accepting expanded DACA applications on the 18th as was planned.  Existing DACA applications and renewals will not be affected by the injunction.

DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson, while disagreeing with the injunction and stating that DHS would appeal, nevertheless stated that his agency would temporarily put a halt to the program while the injunction was in place.

What is DACA?

DACA stands for “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals”, and is a policy that allows young people who came to the U.S. as children to apply for work authorization and to request to be considered lawfully present.  It does not, however, provide any lawful immigration status in and of itself.  Being granted work authorization allows individuals to apply for driver’s licenses, identification, and social security numbers.  Imagine being here from the age of seven, for example, and then finding out when you are a teenager that you have no ability to apply for a job or a driver’s license.  The expansion of DACA would allow people who were older than the previous cut-off age, and who arrived to the U.S. at a later date, to apply for the new expanded DACA program.  Most famously, this includes undocumented journalist and filmmaker Jose Antonio Vargas.

Arguments for and against the program

The complaint said the actions will lead to an increase in human trafficking and new wave of undocumented immigration. The states also said they would be forced to spend money on law enforcement, health care, and education for those protected.”  However, the states that have joined in the lawsuit are not the states that will be most affected by the DACA program.

In contrast, the executive “actions are likely to increase Gross Domestic Product (GDP), reduce the federal deficit, and raise both tax revenue and average wages—all without having any appreciable impact on native-born employment.”  Furthermore, from Define American, “Undocumented workers in Texas paid $1.6 billion in state and local taxes in 2010, including $1.4 billion in sales taxes and $204.4 million in property taxes, according to data from the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy.  If undocumented workers left Texas, the state would lose $69.3 billion in economic activity, $30.8 billion in gross state product, and approximately 403,174 jobs, according to a report by the Perryman Group. Half of the state’s nearly 1 million construction workers have no papers.”

While it seems like it goes with the territory because of my career, I have to go with the economic side of the argument in favor of the program.  For example, the economic argument against DACA cites increased law enforcement.  What is the increased law enforcement for?  Protecting people from violent crimes? Or enforcing immigration policies that lead to detention and removal, and appear to cost money, but actually feed the for-profit prison machine?

The Legal Authority

“The Department of Justice, legal scholars, immigration experts, and the district court in Washington, D.C. have determined that the President’s actions are well within his legal authority.”  There is also a history of executive grants of temporary immigration relief going back decades, and which includes Republican presidents.

By Grace Alano.  Grace Alano is an immigration attorney at Alano Immigration in San Francisco, CA. Find Grace Alano on Google+