RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
All right. Today in a federal court in Texas, the debate over the Trump administration's immigration policies shifts from separated families to recipients of DACA. Remember, that's the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program which was started during the Obama administration. It was a policy intended to protect young people who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children, protecting them from deportation. The status of those DACA recipients has been up in the air since President Trump came into office. NPR's Richard Gonzales reports.
RICHARD GONZALES, BYLINE: Ever since Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced an end to the DACA program last September, the administration has faced several legal challenges seeking to preserve it. But today a court will consider a lawsuit that calls for an end to DACA. A hearing will be held in the Houston courtroom of U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen. Seven states, led by Texas, are asking for a preliminary injunction to force the government to reject renewals for young people currently enrolled in DACA and stop accepting new applications. Hanen is perhaps best known as a judge who, in 2015, blocked the Obama administration from expanding DACA.
JESSICA VAUGHAN: Most people expect that Judge Hanen is not going to look kindly on the DACA program.
GONZALES: Jessica Vaughan is director of Policy Studies at the D.C.-based Center for Immigration Studies, a group favoring immigration limits. She says smart money bets that Hanen eventually will decide that DACA has had a negative effect on the states in the form of costs in providing services to DACA recipients. But legal advocates for DACA say states will have a hard time proving they've been harmed. Nina Perales is the vice president of litigation for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, or MALDEF.
NINA PERALES: Young individuals with DACA grants are living, and working, and going to school, and paying taxes and contributing to local economies. So it is a net benefit to the states to have DACA recipients there.
GONZALES: The Texas hearing comes on the heels of another federal court ruling in Washington, D.C., last week which endorsed DACA. District Judge John Bates blocked the administration from shutting down DACA and ordered it to accept new applications. The administration says it will appeal. Judge Bates is the third federal judge to oppose the ending of DACA. The competing legal rulings represent an emotional rollercoaster for DACA recipients. Antonio Juaregui of Fresno, Calif., is a 21-year-old political science major who was brought to this country when he was 5 years old.
ANTONIO JUAREGUI: You know, this process is draining. It's exhausting. It's expensive. And there has to be a permanent solution, a pathway to citizenship.
GONZALES: But before that has a chance of happening, there will be more court battles. And virtually every legal expert thinks the resolution rests one day with the Supreme Court. Richard Gonzales, NPR News.
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