NASPA Statement on DACA Ruling from Southern District of Texas

Policy and Advocacy Equity, Inclusion and Social Justice
September 21, 2023

A second ruling last week by Judge Andrew Hanen of the Southern District of Texas on the revised Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) sets up a likely return of DACA to the Supreme Court. Judge Hanen’s decision, reiterating his initial position that the program is unconstitutional, signals a continued legal battle, and holds in place a block on new recipients from applying, limiting the program’s protections to current recipients only.


The Department of Homeland Security issued a final rule on DACA that should have gone into full effect on October 31, 2022. However, while an injunction from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas remains in effect, DHS is prohibited from granting initial DACA requests and related employment authorization under the final rule. The political gamesmanship involved in the ongoing legal and legislative attacks on the DACA program continues the ambiguity experienced by an estimated 400,000 undocumented immigrants in higher education.


NASPA supports the possibilities created by the DACA program, which provides educational and career pathways for immigrant students, faculty, and staff and creates a more robust and inclusive higher education community. We wish to amplify advocacy efforts by experts and organizations such as the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration and the American Immigration Council, who are supporting students and advocating for permanent, comprehensive legislative solutions. Reform is possible, demonstrated by the introduction in this Congress of the bipartisan Dignity Act and the American Dream and Promise Act.


Consult NASPA’s Position for Immigration Policy and Higher Education for resources on advocating for a permanent solution with your lawmakers on the Hill. We also encourage our members to download your state data-one pager in the Higher Education Immigration Portal to develop evidence-based talking points.