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  • Washington Highlights

    Federal Appeals Court Orders Review of Revised DACA Program; Leaves Program Intact


    Matthew Shick, Sr. Director, Gov't Relations & Regulatory Affairs
    For Media Inquiries

    The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit on Oct. 5 upheld a lower court decision that found the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program unlawful, concluding that the Obama administration had failed to provide a public notice and comment period required under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) and that the program ran afoul of the Immigration and Naturalization Act. The appeals court left the program intact and ordered the District Court for the Southern District of Texas [EM1] to review the revised DACA program following a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) final rule that is effective Oct. 31. Current recipients can renew their DACA status and apply for advance parole, but the ruling continues to block new applicants from being granted DACA status.

    In an Oct. 5 statement, President Joe Biden expressed disappointment in the 5th Circuit decision and noted “while we will use the tools we have to allow Dreamers to live and work in the only country they know as home, it is long past time for Congress to pass permanent protections for Dreamers, including a pathway to citizenship.” Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, echoed that sentiment in an Oct. 6 statement: “DACA is a lifeline for more than 600,000 Dreamers who make America a better nation every day. The Fifth Circuit decision is a call to action for Congress. Pass the Dream Act now and give these amazing young people a real path to legal status in the only country they have ever called home.”

    Last year, the AAMC submitted a comment letter in support of the DACA proposed rule designed to preserve and fortify the program from legal challenges [refer to Washington Highlights, Dec. 3, 2021]. The rule makes no substantive changes to the program from its 2012 implementation. The AAMC letter also called on “Congress to enact a permanent pathway to citizenship for individuals with DACA status, including approximately 30,000 health professionals.” In 2019, the AAMC filed an amicus brief, joined by 32 organizations representing a range of health professional education groups, opposing DACA’s rescission and informing the Supreme Court that the country had a critical need for the nearly 30,000 health care professionals whose work authorization depends on DACA.

    Congressional action has been stymied by disagreement over comprehensive immigration reform and is not expected before the end of the 117th Congress.