On Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen ruled that the Department of Homeland Security can no longer approve new DACA applicants, but can continue to process DACA renewals as the issue continues to move through the courts.
The ruling was the latest blow to the program, which has granted work permits and protection from deportation to more than 600,000 undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. DACA recipients, immigrant advocates and attorneys for months had been bracing for Hanen to rule against the program, urging Congress to move quickly with immigration reform.
The court decision, the senior official said, has “only made the issue more important.”
Democrats are planning to include immigration measures — such as a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, Temporary Protected Status recipients and essential workers, like farmworkers — in the forthcoming $3.5 trillion spending bill. As bipartisan talks on Capitol Hill have stalled, the reconciliation package may be the only opportunity Biden has to secure a pathway to citizenship without GOP support. Still, it is unclear if the measures will survive the Senate’s budget rules that would allow it to be part of the final package.
Meanwhile, the Justice Department plans to appeal the Texas federal judge’s decision and the Department of Homeland Security will issue a proposed rule meant to safeguard DACA “in the near future,” Biden said in a statement Saturday. He added, however, that only “Congress can ensure a permanent solution” by offering Dreamers a pathway to citizenship.
“They’re exploring all sorts of options,” the official said. “But, to be very clear, they know that the way to get to certainty is their shared belief that Congress needs to create a legal pathway to citizenship.”
Last month, Harris met with a group of immigrant women, including DACA and Temporary Protected Status recipients and green card holders, on the ninth anniversary of the DACA program’s creation. In May, Biden met with a group of six DACA recipients to highlight immigration reform as one of his administration’s top priorities.