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Texas Judge Hears Case Brought By States That Want To End DACA


The Trump administration has been fighting to end DACA, the program that helps young, undocumented immigrants stay in the country. We've heard about court challenges from people fighting to continue DACA. Today a Texas judge heard arguments from a case brought by states that want to end the program. Already three judges elsewhere in the country have ruled against the administration.

In a few minutes, we'll hear what this legal uncertainty means for DACA recipients. First, to tell us what happened today in that Texas courtroom, we're joined by Houston Public Media's Elizabeth Trovall. Hi, Elizabeth.


SHAPIRO: Fine. So first explain who is suing whom in this case.

TROVALL: Yeah, so it's Texas and nine other states, and they're actually suing the federal government. And actually MALDEF, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, is actually taking the case on behalf of DACA recipients.

SHAPIRO: So they're suing the federal government because DACA is still officially a federal government program even though the Trump administration says it wants to end it. So what are the main arguments that the judge heard today?

TROVALL: Yeah, so they're saying that DACA is unconstitutional, you know, because President Obama created it without congressional approval. They're asking the federal judge to put an end to DACA renewals and new applications. And they're saying that because of DACA, there was irreparable harm caused to Texas. They're saying that DACA strains state resources for education, health and law enforcement. You know, MALDEF - they're saying that's actually not true and that by granting work permits, paths citizenship, et cetera, it actually benefits the state.

SHAPIRO: What did the judge say?

TROVALL: The judge made no decision today. He actually asked for more briefs. He wants to hear more arguments that address DACA's legality and whether Obama should have added more regulations before it was implemented in 2012. Parties will have until Monday to file.

SHAPIRO: And this is the same judge who ruled on a DACA case back in 2014 against an Obama administration plan to expand the program, right?

TROVALL: Right. So the 2014 program was called DAPA, Deferred Action for Parents of Americans, and it protected parents of U.S. citizens or lawful residents from deportation. When the judge ruled against that program which would have affected more than 3 million people, it had not yet been implemented. So a lot of arguments today from MALDEF were about how DACA is different here. It's a smaller program affecting 700,000 people. And also, DACA has already been implemented for more than six years now. So it's kind of hard to argue that all of a sudden this program is causing irreparable harm to Texas and other states.

SHAPIRO: Given that this case is playing out in multiple courtrooms in multiple states over a period of time now, where does this all go?

TROVALL: Yeah, well, I mean, Judge Hanen, as I mentioned, is asking for more arguments. He said he would not issue a final ruling on this case, and it would be a temporary ruling. Of course many experts say that ultimately the Supreme Court would have to make a final decision on where we're at with DACA.

SHAPIRO: That's Houston Public Media's Elizabeth Trovall. Thank you.

TROVALL: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Elizabeth Trovall