WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said Saturday that the Justice Department intends to appeal a federal judge’s ruling deeming illegal an Obama-era program that has protected hundreds of thousands of young immigrants from deportation and he renewed his calls for Congress to create a permanent solution.
He said in a statement that Friday’s decision was “deeply disappointing,” and although the judge’s order did not affect those already covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, it “relegates hundreds of thousands of young immigrants to an uncertain future.”
The program has allowed thousands of young people who were brought illegally into the United States as children, or overstayed visas, to live, work and remain in the country. Many of the recipients, commonly known as “Dreamers,” have now been in the U.S. for a decade or longer.
But Texas and eight other states sued to halt DACA, arguing that President Barack Obama lacked the power to create the program because it circumvented Congress. U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen in Houston agreed, and while his ruling left the program intact for existing recipients, it barred the government from approving any new applications.
In his statement, Biden urged Congress to move forward with legislation to permanently protect those covered by the program. “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 toward citizenship for those impacted, 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’s unclear whether that language will survive.