What is Texas v. United States?

It is a challenge to the legality of DACA by nine states led by Texas.

Which states are challenging DACA?

Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, South Carolina, and West Virginia.

What is Texas v. United States challenging about DACA?

Texas v. United States is different from the cases related to the Trump administration’s attempted rescission of DACA; Texas v. U.S. attacks the legality of DACA and seeks a ruling that the original 2012 DACA memo is unlawful, whether or not there is a president who wants to implement it.

Why is the court holding a hearing on March 30, 2021 and what is expected to take place?

The court will hold a status conference to learn about updates to the case. Much has changed since oral argument on the summary judgement motions in December 2020. Following his inauguration, President Joe Biden issued a memorandum directing the U. S. Department of Homeland Security to preserve and fortify DACA. As a result, the federal government should more vigorously defend DACA than it ever did under the hostile Trump administration.  The U. S. House of Representatives passed the American Dream and Promise Act of 2021 earlier this month, and the bill will now go to the U.S. Senate. Attorneys from MALDEF, the State of New Jersey, the federal government, and the State of Texas will appear before U.S. District Court Judge Andrew S. Hanen of the Southern District of Texas to discuss the impact of recent changes to immigration policy and legislation related to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative.

Has Congress moved to adopt legislation that would legalize DACA recipients?

Yes. On March 18, 2021, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the American Dream and Promise Act, which would provide a path to citizenship to DACA recipients. About 2.5 million people who arrived in the U.S. as children would be eligible for a path to citizenship under the law, according to its authors.

Is a ruling by Judge Hanen imminent?

Judge Hanen could issue a ruling at any time, but he is not expected to issue his decision at this status conference in light of the dynamic situation.

When did this challenge start?

Texas filed this case in 2018 and sought an immediate order striking down DACA. However, U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen denied the motion for preliminary injunction, concluding that the plaintiff states could not demonstrate an urgency after waiting six years to file suit.

What is MALDEF’s involvement in this case?

Although the federal government is the named defendant in this case, the Trump administration has refused to defend DACA and has argued in Texas v. United States that DACA is unlawful.  As a result, the defense of DACA in court was being led by 22 DACA recipients who intervened in the case.  MALDEF represents these DACA recipients along with the law firm of Ropes & Gray LLP.  The State of New Jersey also intervened in the case as a defendant.

Where do things stand now?

The case is now at the pre-trial stage.  Both sides have asked the Court to resolve the case without a trial (also known as a request for summary judgment).  The DACA recipients have asked Judge Hanen to dismiss the case because the plaintiff states cannot point to any injuries resulting from DACA, financial or otherwise.  Without injury, the plaintiff states lack the requisite “standing” to bring suit, and the court lacks jurisdiction over the case. The plaintiff states have also asked Judge Hanen to decide the case without a trial and to declare DACA unlawful.

What arguments do Texas and the other states make?

They have two arguments:

  • DACA should have been instituted through federal regulations, not a memorandum; and
  • DACA is inconsistent with federal immigration law because the Immigration and Nationality Act does not provide the president the authority to grant legal immigration status to so many people.

What’s next?

Both sides argued their motions for summary judgment at a hearing in Houston, TX on December 22, 2020.  There are four possible outcomes of the summary judgment motions:

  • The court agrees with the defendant-interveners and dismisses the case because the plaintiffs cannot show any injury from DACA.
  • The court decides that the issues need further development and sets the case for trial, denying both motions for summary judgment.
  • The court reaches the question of DACA’s legality and decides DACA is lawful.
  • The court reaches the question of DACA’s legality and decides DACA is not lawful.
  • The change in presidential administration now also means that the court could defer any ruling on summary judgment in order to permit the federal government to introduce additional evidence or make new arguments based on the stance of the new president.

What happens to DACA if the judge decides in favor of Texas and the states?

Even if the court rules invalid the 2012 memo that established DACA, all parties in the case agree that DACA should continue in the near future while the court considers the appropriate remedy.