The Biden administration announced on Friday that it is taking steps to protect the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and “will publish a proposed rule to ‘preserve and fortify’” the popular policy that’s currently allowing hundreds of thousands of young immigrants to work legally and live free from the threat of deportation, CBS News reports.
President Joe Biden had on Day One of his new administration issued an executive order directing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of Justice to “take all actions” to keep the policy in place and issue the rule. The report said that announced rule “appears to be designed to address concerns raised” by the latest court that’s set to issue a ruling on the program in a lawsuit brought on by the very corrupt Republican state attorney general from Texas.
That Republican elected official, Ken Paxton, certainly has more than enough things to worry about, from securities fraud charges, to bribery allegations, to his activities relating to the deadly seditionist attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. But for years, Paxton has been on a mission to kill DACA. Following its survival at the U.S. Supreme Court last year, he’s now pinning his hopes on anti-immigrant Judge Andrew Hanen, who has made no secret about how he feels about the program. (It’s not good.)
“The rule appears to be designed to address concerns raised by Hanen, who concluded in 2018 that the Obama administration should have implemented DACA through the regulatory process and allowed the public to weigh in on the policy before it was enacted,” CBS News reports. Hanen did not issue a ruling at that time. This regulatory process concern the basis of Paxton’s complaint, and we all just know he’s such a stickler for rule-following. Hanen was notified of the proposed rule on Friday, the report said. ”It is unclear, however, whether the rule will influence Hanen’s ultimate decision in the case, which could be appealed.”
In a statement received by Daily Kos, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) said Hanen is holding a hearing on Tuesday, though “[n]o decisions or rulings in the case are expected the day of the hearing.” Instead, the organization said in the statement that Hanen scheduled the hearing “to receive an update about how recent legislative developments in Congress may affect” the case.
The U.S. House this month passed the Dream and Promise Act, which would put DACA recipients, along with Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Enforced Departure holders, onto a path to legalization. United We Dream member Heyleng Castro said in a statement following the bill’s House passage that it “would mean I could continue my college education and one day have the opportunity to walk across the stage at graduation, something which has been jeopardized because of my immigration status.”
“For me and millions of other immigrant young people, a pathway to citizenship means safety, opportunity and hope,” Castro continued.
But no matter if DACA again survives or is again halted by Republicans, permanent protections must become law. Sen. Dick Durbin said following the House’s action that he believed he was close to getting the Republican support he needs for his DREAM Act to overcome a filibuster in the chamber. “I’ve been stopped by the filibuster five times from passing it,” Durbin told CNN. “I had a majority, I didn’t have 60 votes. Do I have 60 now? I think I’m close.” Nor should the Jim Crow filibuster stand in the way of protecting all undocumented immigrants, or passing other reforms we desperately need.
While we work to achieve permanent relief, the Biden administration is right to take action to protect the DACA program. Karen Tumlin, an attorney whose litigation led to the decision that forced the previous administration to reimplement the policy after terminating it in 2017, told CBS News: “This is the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security saying ‘we’re moving this into a more solid sphere, into a regulatory sphere by issuing formal rule-making. That’s putting your arms around and hugging the DACA program because you believe it is here to stay.”
“We are taking action to preserve and fortify DACA,” DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in the report. “This is in keeping with the President’s memorandum. It is an important step, but only the passage of legislation can give full protection and a path to citizenship to the Dreamers who know the U.S. as their home.”