▶ Watch Video: DACA program faces cancellation in Texas court battle

Washington — A federal judge on Wednesday again declared the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals immigration program unlawful, though he refrained from ordering officials to terminate deportation protections and work permits for 580,000 immigrant “Dreamers.”

At the request of Republican-led states, Judge Andrew Hanen of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas ruled that a Biden administration effort to codify the DACA policy into a federal regulation was unlawful. Hanen, who was named to the bench by former Republican President George W. Bush, issued a similar ruling in 2021, when he found that the original Obama administration memo that created DACA in 2012 was illegal.

While he agreed to a request from Republican officials in Texas and eight other states to declare the Biden administration regulation illegal, Hanen did not grant another request to order a complete termination of DACA over two years. In 2021, Hanen also allowed existing DACA beneficiaries to continue renewing their two-year work permits and deportation protections, despite closing the program to new applicants.

The Biden administration is expected to appeal Wednesday’s ruling and the case is likely to reach the Supreme Court. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, tasked with reviewing appeals of Hanen’s rulings, also declared DACA illegal last year.

Since 2012, DACA has allowed hundreds of thousands of immigrants who crossed the U.S. southern border illegally or overstayed visas as children to live and work in the country without fear of deportation if they meet certain requirements. They include lacking a serious criminal record; coming to the U.S. before June 2007 and by age 16; and graduating from an American high school or serving in the military.

As of the end of March, there were 578,680 immigrants enrolled in DACA, and more than half of them lived in California, Texas, Illinois and New York, according to government data