A Texas Federal Judge has granted a request for a temporary injunction against the implementation of the Deferred Action for Parents of Citizens and Residents (DAPA) and the expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) announced by President Obama on November 20, 2014. The full text of the ruling can be found here.
The injunction, a temporary hold ordered by the court, is the result of a lawsuit brought by twenty-six states to prevent the Federal Government and the Department of Homeland Security from implementing the programs mentioned above. The lawsuit stems from the administration’s response to the inability of Congress to pass immigration reform.
The first Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was announced in June 15, 2012. This program allows individuals to apply for deferred action and employment authorization if they arrived in the United States before June 15, 2007, were under age 16 at the time of entry, and were under age 31 on the date the program was announced. Deferred action does not offer any type of legal status, path to citizenship, or ‘amnesty’, but is rather a temporary reprieve from the threat of deportation. The President’s announcement on November 20, 2014 expanded eligibility for that program by lifting the age cap, extending the period of validity to three years, and adjusting the date of entry requirement. The announcement also created a separate program for the parents of United States citizens and lawful permanent residents who entered the country before January 1, 2010.
As a result of the injunction on these programs, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, announced that the Department of Homeland Security must comply with the Judge’s ruling and, therefore, will not begin accepting requests for the expansion of DACA on February 18th as originally planned. Similarly, all plans to accept requests for DAPA are suspended until further notice.
It is expected that the Texas court’s ruling will result in only a temporary delay in these two programs. The federal government has indicated that it intends to appeal the ruling. It is likely that the appeal will include a request for a stay of the injunction throughout the appeal process which would allow the two initiatives to proceed during the pending litigation. If the appeals court declines to issue the stay, the government will likely appeal to the United States Supreme Court. Constitutional law experts and immigration law experts seem to agree that the states that sued the federal government do not have the authority to dictate federal immigration policy, and that the federal government will ultimately succeed in the lawsuit, permitting DAPA and DACA expansion to continue.
What does this mean for current DACA applicants and applicants filing to renew their DACA?
Applicants under the current DACA program announced in June of 2012, and those filing for renewal under that program, are not affected by this injunction and may continue to apply. This ruling applies only to those planning on filing under the DAPA and expanded DACA programs, announced by President Obama on November 20, 2014.
What should applicants under the DACA expansion and DAPA programs do?
At the moment, this appears to be only a temporary delay. Persons planning on applying under the DACA expansion and DAPA programs should continue to gather the necessary documents to prove their eligibility under these programs.
Does this order affect enforcement priorities?
No. Secretary Johnson indicates that the priorities announced in his November 20, 2014, memorandum remain in full force. Based on those priorities, the Department focuses on deporting individuals who are a threat to public safety, national security, and border security. For the full text of the memorandum, click here.
If you have questions about DACA or DAPA, please contact the attorneys at Minsky, McCormick and Hallagan.