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Judge allows group of "Dreamers" to formally fight Texas' lawsuit to end DACA

A federal judge ruled Tuesday that the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund can represent a group of young undocumented immigrants in opposing a lawsuit aimed at ending an Obama-era immigration program shielding people like them from deportation.

Texans protest in front of the attorney general's office after the White House announced it would phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

A federal district judge has allowed a group of young undocumented immigrants to intervene in a lawsuit where the state of Texas seeks to put an end to the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program.

Brownsville-based U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen will allow the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund to represent the group of young "Dreamers," the common term for young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the country as children and have lived here most of their lives. They argue they would be irreparably harmed if the popular Obama-era program ends. The initiative shields recipients from deportation and allows them a renewable, two-year work permit.

The decision Tuesday comes after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton made good earlier this month on a long-standing promise to sue the Trump administration with the hopes of ending the program, alleging it is unconstitutional. Neither side opposed the intervention, according to a MALDEF press release.

DACA has been on and off the chopping block since President Donald Trump announced in September that his administration was phasing out the program over six months. But three different courts have since ruled that the administration must keep the program intact, for now.

The most recent decision came in late April, when U.S. District Judge John D. Bates of the District of Columbia went a step further than previous decisions and ruled the administration must accept new DACA applications instead of only renewals. That decision was placed on hold for 90 days, however, leaving the White House time to argue its reasoning for ending DACA. Paxton’s lawsuit came about a week after Bates’ order, and Texas has been joined by six other states in its latest efforts.

As of the September announcement, there were about 120,000 DACA beneficiaries in Texas and more than 800,000 nationwide.

MALDEF officials have said the intervention is necessary because Texas and the Trump administration are in lockstep in their efforts to see the program eliminated.

“Today’s order of intervention ensures that this case will not go forward as a sweetheart arrangement between non-adversaries who agree with each other on almost every relevant issue,” Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF’s president and general counsel, said in a statement. “Interveners and their counsel will present a vigorous defense of DACA, an initiative in effect for many years and from which Texas and every other state have benefited.” 

President Trump said in September that the six-month delay was necessary in order for Congress to act, but the U.S. House and Senate have both failed to advance any legislation to codify DACA, including efforts that would have also bolstered border security.

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