All eyes on Houston for hearing in DACA lawsuit

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Opponents of a President Barack Obama-era program shielding young immigrants from deportation will go before a federal judge who they hope will rule that the program cannot continue.

Three federal judges have ruled against President Donald Trump's administration's efforts to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. But a new lawsuit was filed in Texas before Judge Andrew Hanen, the same judge who ended another Obama effort to expand protections for immigrants in the U.S. illegally.

On Wednesday, Hanen did not issue a ruling. Instead, he asked both sides for written statements on questions he raised during the hearing.

"At the end, he asked each side to submit an additional five-page argument on the question whether DACA is illegal because the administration should have done more to set into regulation before it was implemented in 2012," said Nina Perales, an attorney with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF). MALDEF is representing 22 DACA recipients who are serving as interveners in the case.

MALDEF argued the State of Texas has not been able to prove it incurred any costs or irreparable harm because of DACA.

Hanen also asked why the State took so long to sue when the program has been in place since 2012.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton was expected to make remarks after the hearing, but instead he issued the following written statement:

DACA represents a dangerous view of executive power, which would allow the president to unilaterally set aside any duly enacted law.  It cannot be allowed to stand without doing serious harm to our Constitution. This lawsuit is vital to restoring the rule of law to our immigration system.

The briefs are due on Monday, Aug. 13. If Hanen rules DACA is invalid, it would conflict with the other rulings in favor of the program. Legal experts say that conflict would draw the attention of higher courts or the U.S. Supreme Court, which might side with Hanen.

About 700,000 immigrants are covered by DACA.