Key DACA case in New Orleans federal appeals court may decide lives of thousands


Lawyers in a Texas court pleaded in a federal appeals court on Wednesday to retain an Obama-era program that prevents deportation of people brought into the United States as children, saying it will cruelly disrupt the lives of hundreds of thousands of people who are contributing to the country and are productive drivers of the economy.

An attorney for the state of Texas, a state that is leading the effort to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, said their continued presence has cost the state hundreds of millions in healthcare and other costs.

An AP report said more than 100 DACA supporters were present outside the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, LA, holding signs, beating drums and chanting slogans. “They called for preservation of the program that protects more than 600,000 people from deportation, and a path to citizenship for immigrants,” the AP reported.

The arguments are being heard by Chief Judge Priscilla Richman, who was appointed Republican President George W. Bush, and Judge James C. Ho and Judge Kurt Engelhardt, both appointed by President Donald J. Trump.

The news agency quoted DACA supporter Woojung “Diana” Park, 22, of New York as saying, “I am undocumented, and I will speak out today.” She told the AP that she was brought to the U.S. as a one-year-old from South Korea. “DACA is the bare minimum that the U.S. government has offered immigrant communities after decades of fighting for basic human rights.”

Notably, in 2021, a Texas federal judge had declared DACA illegal, but he had ordered the program to remain intact for those already benefiting from it while his order is in the appeal process.

Several advocacy organizations and a coalition of global conglomerates have defended DACA saying the program’s
beneficiaries are employees, consumers and job creators. These include the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and corporations such as Amazon, Apple, Google and Microsoft. The AP reported that U.S. Justice Department defended the program, allied with the state of New Jersey.

However, nine Republican-leaning states led by Texas have argued that DACA was enacted without going through proper legal and administrative procedures, including public notice and comment periods. The states have argued in court that immigrants will inflict financial harm to the states if they are allowed to remain in the country illegally.

The AP quoted Brian Benton of the U.S. Justice Department as saying that the Department of Homeland Security has limited resources. “It is unable to remove 11 million immigrants from the country,” he told the AP. “It has to decide who it is going to target first.”

Meanwhile DACA supporters have submitted to the court that Texas waited six years to challenge the program thus weakening its own claims of financial harm. They also argued that Texas has ignored evidence suggesting DACA recipients decrease the state’s costs as many of them hold jobs with health insurance benefits, own homes and pay property taxes that support schools.

They also said in their court brief that DACA beneficiaries are parents of over a quarter-million U.S. citizens, and that 70% of DACA recipients have an immediate family member who is a U.S. citizen.

DACA was created by then President Barack Obama in 2012 via an executive order. His successor Donald Trump decided to end the program but a U.S. Supreme Court decision said proper procedures were not followed and the program survived. The Texas lawsuit is the next step in the process by conservative states to end the program.