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Judge Stays Order That Would Have Caused ‘Irreversible Harm to Thousands of Immigrant Youth’

Tina Vasquez

“This decision rightly puts a stop, for now, to an indefensible order that could have exposed tens of thousands of blameless youth to privacy and safety threats,” National Immigration Law Center Legal Director Karen Tumlin said.

Thousands of young, undocumented immigrants won’t see their personal information released by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to a Texas court, thanks to the U.S. district judge who issued the May 19 order, Andrew Hanen. On Tuesday, Hanen stayed the order “pending the outcome of” a hearing he set for August 22.

As Rewire reported Monday, the court order would have placed the personal information of thousands of immigrant youth directly in the hands of the state officials who oppose protections for undocumented persons.

The August 22 hearing will take place after the Supreme Court is expected to rule in United States v. Texas, the lawsuit that challenges the Obama administration’s 2014 executive action on immigration. The action included expanding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which extended work permits issued under the program from two to three years, and creating Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA). As a result of the lawsuit challenging the executive action, the implementation of DAPA has stalled indefinitely.

Like DACA—which enables undocumented immigrants who meet certain requirements to receive a renewable work permit and exemption from deportation for two years—DAPA offers similar benefits to undocumented parents with U.S. citizenship or legal permanent resident children.

A February 2016 report by the Migration Policy Institute and the Urban Institute found that 3.6 million undocumented parents could benefit from DAPA, though like DACA, it does not offer a pathway to citizenship.

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Nationwide, an estimated 108,000 young immigrants benefited from the DACA expansion that existed from November 2014 to February 2015, the period between when the administration issued its action and when Hanen ordered the government to rescind the three-year permits and halt implementation of DAPA.

Last month, Hanen ordered the DOJ to disclose the names, addresses, and other identifiers of the estimated 50,000 DACA recipients residing in the 26 states involved in United States v. Texas who benefited from the short-lived DACA expansion. In an effort to halt the disclosure, the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and the ACLU of Texas petitioned the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday for a writ of mandamus on behalf of four people who would be affected by Hanen’s order.

“This decision rightly puts a stop, for now, to an indefensible order that could have exposed tens of thousands of blameless youth to privacy and safety threats,” NILC Legal Director Karen Tumlin said in a press release. “Though we’ve always known that this order is out of bounds and should never take effect, we are glad that Judge Hanen has at least decided to wait for the Supreme Court to provide some guidance in this case before taking a step that would cause irreversible harm to thousands of immigrant youth.”

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