US President Joe Biden has said the Justice Department intends to appeal a federal judge’s ruling deeming illegal a programme that has protected hundreds of thousands of young immigrants from deportation, and renewed his calls for Congress to create a permanent solution.
He said in a statement on Saturday that the decision was “deeply disappointing,” and although the judge’s order did not affect those already covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programme, it “relegates hundreds of thousands of young immigrants to an uncertain future”.
Texas and eight other states sued to halt DACA, arguing that former President Barack Obama lacked the power to create the programme in 2012 by executive action because it circumvented Congress.
US District Judge Andrew Hanen in Houston agreed, and while his ruling left the programme intact for existing recipients, it barred the government from approving new applications.
Hanen found DACA violated the Administrative Procedure Act when it was created but said that since there are so many people currently enrolled in the programme – nearly 650,000 – his ruling would be temporarily put on hold for their cases and their renewal applications.
In his statement, Biden urged Congress to move forward with legislation to permanently protect those covered by the programme.
“Only Congress can ensure a permanent solution by granting a path to citizenship for Dreamers that will provide the certainty and stability that these young people need and deserve,” the president said.
“I have repeatedly called on Congress to pass the American Dream and Promise Act, and I now renew that call with the greatest urgency,” he said. “It is my fervent hope that through reconciliation or other means, Congress will finally provide security to all Dreamers, who have lived too long in fear.”
The House approved legislation in March creating a pathway towards citizenship for those affected, but the measure has stalled in the Senate.
Immigration advocates hope to include a provision in sweeping budget legislation Democrats want to pass this year, but it is unclear whether that language will survive.