Updated Sep 13, 2023 - Politics & Policy

DACA struck down again, but protections remain for current recipients

Students and supporters gathered to support undocumented students in the University of California system on the UCLA campus on May 17. Photo: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

A federal judge on Wednesday again deemed illegal the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that protects undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children.

Driving the news: DACA's protections will remain in place for more than half a million beneficiaries. However, no new applications will be allowed.

What they're saying: "As we have long maintained, we disagree with the District Court's conclusion that DACA is unlawful, and will continue to defend this critical policy from legal challenges," White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.

  • "While we do so, consistent with the court's order, DHS will continue to process renewals for current DACA recipients and DHS may continue to accept DACA applications."

The big picture: The move halts the Biden administration's efforts to fortify the policy against legal challenges into federal rule, and marks the second time Judge Andrew Hanen has issued such a ruling on the matter.

Catch up quick: Nine Republican-led states asked Hanen to strike down the Biden administration's new rule earlier this year.

  • The lawsuit challenging the Obama-era policy sought to halt protections for renewing deportation protections and work permits for the immigrants, known as "Dreamers," and phase out the program over two years, arguing that the rule which affects some 800,000 people is unlawful.

By the numbers: As of the end of 2022, there were more than 580,000 active participants in the DACA program, according to U.S. government data.

  • By total population and per capita, California is home to more Dreamers than any other state — more than 165,000.

Go deeper: 11 years of Dreamers

Editor's note: This article has been updated with comment from White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.

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