By Ted Hesson
WASHINGTON, Oct 5 (Reuters) – A federal appeals court ruled on Wednesday that a program that has shielded hundreds of thousands of young immigrants from deportation was illegal, but said current enrollees could renew their status and returned the case to a lower court to consider a new regulation from the Biden administration.
A three-judge panel of the conservative-leaning US Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit upheld a lower court’s ruling against the program, called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), but sent the case back. back in light of a new regulation issued in August.
The decision is contradictory to the president of the United States, Democrat Joe Biden, who said he wants a permanent path to citizenship for DACA recipients – often known as “Dreamers”.
The court allowed the current 594,000 DACA enrollees to keep their status, yet continues to block new applications.
Returning the case, the appeals court said it did not have enough information to rule in light of the new regulation, which will take effect on October 31, but noted the case must be resolved as quickly as possible.
“The legal issues presented by DACA are serious, both for the parties and for the public,” they wrote.
Former President Barack Obama, a Democrat with whom Biden worked as vice president, created DACA in 2012 after efforts by the US Congress to grant citizenship to immigrants brought to the country as children failed.
DACA recipients have faced years of uncertainty and legal wrangling. Biden’s predecessor, former Republican President Donald Trump, attempted to end the program, but was prevented from doing so by the Supreme Court. (Reporting by Ted Hesson in Washington; additional reporting by Kristina Cooke in San Francisco Writing by Tim Ahmann Editing in Spanish by Aida Peláez-Fernández)