What is happening with DACA?
The DACA struggle continues. We are awaiting a decision on a lawsuit relating to DACA after a hearing today, Wednesday, August 8, 2018. The federal judge in Texas who will be making the decision, Judge Hanen, previously struck down the expansion of DACA.
How did we get here?
The DREAM Act to protect certain individuals who had been brought to the United States as children never passed congress, despite years of trying. The Obama administration created DACA to help individuals who would have been covered by the DREAM Act. At the beginning of the Trump administration, several states, including Texas, filed a lawsuit challenging the actions of the Obama administration in creating DACA. This lawsuit is called Texas v. Nielsen and is before Federal Judge Andrew Hanen in Texas. Judge Hanen has already granted an initial injunction to the states in the lawsuit that had the effect of stopping USCIS from taking any new DACA applications. An injunction is considered extraordinary legal relief that happens before the end of the case and is only granted in certain circumstances. The effect of the injunction in this case was to stop the processing of DACA applications because the judge believed the states asking for it were likely to win on the case and needed the injunction to prevent the states from being seriously harmed.
When USCIS stopped accepting DACA applications due the injunction from Judge Hanen, DACA holders in other states, including New York and California, challenged the way USCIS had abruptly stopped accepting applications, basically killing DACA. Other courts ordered USCIS to continue DACA, forcing USCIS to again accept DACA renewals. A recent case in Washington, which may still be appealed, could require USCIS to start accepting any new DACA applications.
Currently, different courts have different outcomes on the DACA question, creating a conflict that affects hundreds of thousands of people with DACA and millions of people who have a DACA family member.
What is the August 8, 2018 hearing in Texas about?
The August 8, 2018 hearing before Judge Hanen is to argue the merits of the case against DACA. Judge Hanen has shown his hand before, and it is likely that he will rule that DACA was not legal in the first place. This would mean that USCIS would have to stop accepting DACA applications. Though we do not yet have a decision, and may not know the decision for several days, Judge Hanen’s previous rulings pretty much let us know where he stands and how his decision will go after August 8, 2018.
It seems the Trump administration plans to ask for a “stay” in all the courts where DACA is being challenged or upheld after the decision by Judge Hanen. A “stay” would mean a pause or a time-out for all the different cases while the Trump administration gets their arguments together and tries to push the case to the Supreme Court of the United States. A Supreme Court decision would settle the conflict between the different legal outcomes in the various DACA lawsuits. By doing this, the Trump administration hopes to kill DACA altogether, including the decisions from the courts that have upheld DACA.
What does this mean to people with DACA?
PAY ATTENTION TO THE NEWS AND CALL AN IMMIGRATION ATTORNEY IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS. Nothing has been decided yet, so this is not a time to panic nor take drastic actions. We are not yet sure what Judge Hanen will decide, nor how USCIS will treat DACA applications and applicants after his ruling. We will continue to inform you of what is happening and are available to meet with you to discuss your DACA questions as we find out more. Stay informed from reliable sources! This is not the time to rely on friends or family members for advice – contact Walther Goss Law or another qualified immigration attorney.