9 GOP-led states ask federal judge in Texas to end DACA program protections for "Dreamers"

Activists listen during a news conference marking the 10th anniversary of the passing of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), on Capitol Hill last June. Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Nine Republican-led states asked a federal judge in Texas Tuesday to strike down a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program rule that protects undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children.

Driving the news: The latest lawsuit challenging the Obama-era policy seeks 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.

  • The Biden administration announced a rule last year to "preserve and fortify" the DACA program in the face of ongoing legal challenges.
  • The coalition of states, which also includes Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina, West Virginia, Kansas and Mississippi, argues that the rule oversteps the "scope of executive power."

The big picture: The DACA program has remained in place since 2012 despite litigation and former President Trump's multiple attempts to slash the program.

  • The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals last October largely upheld a district court ruling that the program was unlawful, but allowed it to remain in place for existing DACA recipients as it sent the case back to the lower court to review the Biden administration's DACA final rule.

Of note: The latest lawsuit is before Judge Andrew Hanen, of the Southern District of Texas, who ruled in 2021 that Congress had not granted the then-President Obama the legal authority to create the DACA program.

  • Hanen said the program should have been enacted through federal regulation open to public comment and paused new DACA applications. The Biden administration addressed this in its DACA final rule.

What we're watching: "Although we can't predict what a ruling would look like, if Judge Hanen rules that DACA is unlawful, that decision is likely to be appealed to a higher court," said Nina Perales, of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which is defending the program along with the Biden administration and New Jersey, to CBS News.

  • Representatives for the Biden administration did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.

Read the Texas-led court filing, via DocumentCloud:

Go deeper: As DACA turns 10, protections for thousands of immigrants remain in jeopardy

Editor's note: This article has been updated with additional details throughout.

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