Court Says Obama Broke The Law?

Center for American Progress Action Fund from Washington, DC, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

The Obama administration didn’t have the authority to institute the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a federal appeals court ruled on Wednesday (October 5), in what has been a protracted legal battle about the law’s legitimacy.

As part of Wednesday’s ruling, the fifth U.S. Circuit’s three-judge panel ordered a Texas federal judge to review the changes the Biden administration had made to DACA.

Although the fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling confirms the Obama administration didn’t have the authority to create and implement the immigration policy, it wouldn’t dismantle the policy that affects 600,000 immigrants, allowing those who enjoy its protections to continue.

The court, however, did rule that no new applicants could be processed under DACA.

The court’s opinion, published alongside the ruling, states, “A district court is in the best position to review the administrative record in the rulemaking proceeding and determine whether our holdings as to the 2012 DACA Memorandum fully resolve issues concerning the Final Rule.”

Wednesday’s ruling comes after several Republican-led filed suit against the U.S. government for causing financial harm to their states, arguing they had to spend tens of millions of dollars providing education and health care services to thousands of individuals residing in the country illegally.

In July 2021 — six months after Biden had signed a memo attempting to preserve DACA by ordering the Department of Homeland Security to take “all appropriate actions under the law” in protecting the program — U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen ruled DACA was illegal.

Hanen explained that the program hadn’t gone through the required public notice and comment as required by the Administrative Procedures Act.

In August 2022, Biden announced changes to DACA to codify the 2012 program. These changes are set to go into effect on October 31, 2022.