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Federal appeals court hears arguments on legality of DACA program

Federal appeals court hears arguments on legality of DACA program
A three-judge federal appeals court in New Orleans heard arguments regarding the legality of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program Wednesday after a federal judge ordered new applications to stop last year. File Photo by Mike Theiler/UPI | License Photo

July 6 (UPI) -- A federal appeals court in New Orleans on Wednesday heard arguments on the legality of the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program.

The panel of three judges, including James Ho and Kurt Engelhardt, who were appointed by former President Donald Trump, and Priscilla Richman, an appointee of former President George W. Bush, heard appeals by the Biden administration, liberal states and individual DACA recipients challenging a ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen that the program is unlawful.

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Hanen's ruling last July ordered the Department of Homeland Security to halt approvals of new applicants to the program, which allows certain immigrants to temporarily avoid deportation and receive renewable work permits. It did, however, allow the department to continue to process DACA renewals as the case moved through the court system.

The decision went in the favor of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and eight other states that sued to end the program in 2018, stating they face irreparable harm because they bear extra costs from providing healthcare, education and law enforcement protection to DACA recipients.

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"The relevant question here for summary judgment is whether ... [Texas] has shown at least a dollar of expenditures that would be remedied by the removal of DACA and whether some individual who has received that sort of spending under DACA will leave the United States," Texas Solicitor General Judd Stone II told the judges Wednesday.

Department of Justice attorney Brian M. Boyton countered that the injury caused to the plaintiff states was "purely speculative," citing a case the same appeals court heard in 2015.

Ho criticized Boyton for citing the 2015 case, noting it was not mentioned in the Justice Department's written filings.

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"I'm looking at your brief and you don't really talk about that case," he said. "I'm just surprised that your lead case isn't even in your brief."

DACA was established under former President Barack Obama in 2012 and more than 611,000 immigrants, known as Dreamers, are currently enrolled in the program, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Dozens of those beneficiaries attended Wednesday's hearing, Maria Gabriela Pacheco, TheDream.US director of advocacy, development and communications, told reporters.

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"When the judges entered the room, we all stood up and I got the opportunity to look back and look at some of our DACA recipients in the room. Their faces were not just of determination but also anxiety and heartache," she said. "We're talking about a whole decade of an extremely successful program."

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