Appeals Court Says DACA Is Illegal but Keeps Program Alive
October 17, 2022

UPDATE: In yet another case, a federal judge ruled Oct. 14 that the current version of DACA can continue, at least temporarily. The Associated Press reports that U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen—who last year declared DACA illegal—said that the policy can continue with limitations that he previously set.

October 6, 2022

​​​ACE President Ted Mitchell calls on Congress to pass legislation now to permanently protect Dreamers

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Oc7. 5 that the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was not lawful but preserved the district court’s stay, which permits current enrollees to continue renewing their status. The ruling sends the case back to the lower court for reconsideration in light of the Biden administration’s new DACA regulations.

Since its inception in 2012, DACA has protected hundreds of thousands of young immigrants—many of them college students—from deportation and allowed them to pursue their educations, work legally in the United States, and serve in the military. Texas and a group of Republican state attorneys general brought this case in 2018, arguing that DACA was illegally implemented by executive order. In July 2021, a U.S. District Court judge in Texas sided with the states.

The Biden administration in August released the final version of new regulations to strengthen and protect DACA. The regulations mark the first time DACA has gone through a formal rulemaking process, aiming to provide protections for DACA against ongoing court challenges after years of legal wrangling under both the Obama and Trump administrations.

Comments submitted last fall by ACE on behalf of 45 other higher education associations asked the Department of Homeland Security to expand the eligibility criteria to include more Dreamers under the program, but the new rule failed to do that.

ACE President Ted Mitchell issued the following statement on the appeals court decision:

"We are dismayed that this ruling by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals continues to force hundreds of thousands of outstanding young Dreamers to live in fear and uncertainty. While we appreciate that current Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program recipients can for now continue to renew their status, it is simply unconscionable that there still exists the opportunity for such a court ruling. We also note the ongoing legal danger posed by this ruling, which embraces the wrongheaded view that the program itself is unlawful.

It is unacceptable that Congress has, for so many years, failed to act to pass legislation to permanently protect Dreamers. These talented young individuals are Americans in every way but legal status. Most have only known this country as their home. They attend our colleges and universities, they work and pay taxes, and they serve in the military. Many have spent the past two and half years on the front lines of the battle against COVID-19 as doctors, nurses, and first responders.

This unacceptable legal and political limbo must stop. Congress must finally act, and it must do so now. To do anything else is morally unthinkable."   

The case is likely to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Remember the Dreamers website logo

The Remember the Dreamers campaign is working to focus Congress on ​​finding a legislative solution for Dreamers and DACA recipients. Working together, the higher education community plays a vital role in both advocating for and assisting these young people, many of whom are students on our campuses.