The ruling from Judge Andrew Hanen would bar future applications but does not immediately cancel current permits for hundreds of thousands of people.
DACA, created in 2012, was intended to provide temporary reprieve to undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children — a group often described as “Dreamers” — many of whom are now adults.
But almost a decade since the program was established, DACA is still one of the only signs of potential relief for undocumented immigrants looking to remain and work in the US.
Hanen, an appointee of President George W. Bush, ruled that Congress had not granted the Department of Homeland Security the authority to create DACA and that it prevented immigration officials from enforcing removal provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
“Congress has not granted the Executive Branch free rein to grant lawful presence outside the ambit of the statutory scheme,” Hanen wrote.
Congress remains the only body that can provide a permanent solution for DACA recipients through legislation, but immigration legislation has been stalled for years.
Long legal fight
Hanen’s shocking Friday afternoon ruling is the latest dramatic twist in the nearly decade-old DACA program.
The Trump administration tried ending DACA in 2017, but the US Supreme Court blocked its attempt in June 2020.
After the Supreme Court ruling, the Trump administration then tried to say no new DACA applications would be accepted and renewals would be limited to one year instead of two amid an ongoing review. A separate federal judge rejected that and ordered the restoration of the program.
The lawsuit was originally brought by Texas — along with Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina and West Virginia — which argued that the program placed an undue burden on the states and amounted to executive overreach. Hanen heard oral arguments in the case in December.
This story is breaking and will be updated.