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Texas files motion to stop DACA immigration program

Protesters marched in Washington, D.C., in September in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Matt York
Protesters marched in Washington, D.C., in September in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has asked a federal judge to end an Obama-era program that’s allowed tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants to live and work in the state without fear of deportation.

Paxton argues the program, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, is unlawful under current law despite President Biden’s attempts to modify the program. DACA protects hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants from immediate deportation and allows them to legally work in the United States with renewable, two-year work permits.

The request by Paxton, who is joined by eight other states in the litigation, asks Brownsville-based judge Andew Hanen to grant a so-called summary judgement, arguing that such a decision “is warranted where there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and Plaintiffs are entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”

The move is the latest in a years-long effort to block DACA and, if successful, could affect nearly 100,000 Texans who are currently enrolled in the program.

In July 2021, Hanen ruled the program was illegally implemented and said new applications could not be considered. In August 2022, the Biden administration reissued the DACA guidelines. Two months later, a federal appeals court sided with Hanen, although the three-judge panel left the program in place for renewals and sent the case back to the lower court for further consideration.

In his filing Paxton argues that the latest iteration of DACA is the same as the previous program. He is asking the judge to prevent federal immigration officials from approving new applications and to stop issuing renewals two years after a judgement issued in his favor.

A timeline on when Hanen will rule is unclear.

Paxton has had success in federal court on immigration-related lawsuits. His office successfully stopped a 2014 program that would have expanded deferred action eligibility to millions of undocumented immigrants under the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or DAPA, program.

Paxton last month filed a separate lawsuit to stop Biden from implementing a program that would allow tens of thousands of immigrants from Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Haiti to be paroled into the country under current immigration laws. Paxton said the proposal “unlawfully creates a de facto pathway to citizenship.”

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Got a tip? Email Julián Aguilar at jaguilar@kera.org.You can follow Julián on Twitter @nachoaguilar.

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Julián Aguilar | The Texas Newsroom