The DACA program was debated before a judge who ruled that it is unlawful

Attorneys for young undocumented immigrants who are DACA recipients defended the program's legality as Republican-led states sue to end it.

Attorneys for young immigrants who are protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, also known as DACA defended the legality and continued the program in Texas before a Texas court on Thursday.

The federal judge who presided over the hearing is the same one that declared DACA illegal in 2020 and closed the program to new applicants. The U.S. district judge at the time said that the Obama administration did not follow federal administrative rules when launching the Program in 2012

DACA was established in 2012 by the then-President Barack Obama as an executive order. It allows eligible young adults without documentation who were brought to the U.S. when they were children to study and work without fear of being deported.

Nina Perales is the vice president of litigation for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and represents DACA recipients. She said that the case was sent back to Hanen’s court in order to take into consideration a recent Biden Administration rule which turned the program to a Federal Regulation, increasing its chances of survival.

Perales, in a press conference held outside the courtroom after the hearing concluded on Thursday afternoon said that the nine states who have sued DACA to end it “lack standing” to sue. He added that they haven’t been able prove any injury or harm to them.

Perales stated that “we shouldn’t be in court at all, having DACA to defend us.”

Texas, Alabama and Arkansas are the states sued.

In court filings the states claimed that the updated immigration program was essentially the exact same as the original 2012 memo, and that it is “illegal and unconstitutional”. They also said that the White House had overstepped its powers by granting benefits to immigrants that Congress should decide.

Perales and her group argued that DACA was legal because it is the result of “a lawful executive discretion regarding immigration,” Perales said.

Perales, in a telephone call with reporters on Tuesday, explained that DACA is consistent with previous policies of the U.S. Government which have provided deportation relief for permission to work.

Over 580,000 DACA recipients reside in the U.S. The overwhelming majority of them were born in Mexico or other Latin American countries. According to Gaby Pacheco, The Dream.US is an organization that helps DACA recipients as well as other immigrant youths known by the name Dreamers attend college.

Pacheco, a reporter on Tuesday, said that many of the workers have been in the workplace for 10 years. They have families and careers.

Maritza Gutierrez was one of more than 50 DACA recipients who gathered in a park near a courthouse. She urged Congress to pass “a permanent solution, and not something that has to be renewed every 2 years.”

Gutierrez, a mother of a 2-year old child, spoke in Spanish outside court.

Hanen will not rule immediately after the court hearing on Thursday. Hanen’s decision could end up in front of the U.S. Supreme Court a third and final time.

Contributed by Associated Press

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