On Nov. 9, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld the U.S. District Court for Southern District of Texas’ decision to temporarily delay the new Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) and expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programs. The 124-page, 2-to-1 ruling took five months and may affect up to 5 million eligible undocumented immigrants.
Both DAPA and the expanded DACA program have been on hold since February, after a court in Texas issued a temporary injunction, while 26 states continue a legal battle challenging the constitutionality of the programs.
As a result of this most recent ruling, the U.S. Department of Justice plans to appeal to U.S. Supreme Court officials. This means that if the Obama administration wants to remove the injunction against DAPA and DACA before his term ends in 14 months, the U.S. Supreme Court must agree to hear the case and decide by summer 2016. If this doesn’t take place, the future of both programs will be in the hands of whomever wins the upcoming presidential election.
Understanding DAPA & DACA
Started by the Obama administration in June 2012, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is an American immigration policy that allows certain undocumented immigrants who entered the United States before their 16th birthdays and before June 2007 to receive renewable two-year work permits and exemption from deportation.
In November 2014, President Obama announced an expansion of the DACA program to include undocumented immigrants who entered the United States prior to 2010, remove the requirement that applicants be younger than 31 years old, and increase the renewable deferral period to two years. He also announced a second program known as Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA), that would allow parents to seek their own work permits and protection from deportation.
After the DACA program expansion was announced, the state of Texas challenged the executive authority to grant deferred action to approximately 4 million undocumented adults. A federal district court in Texas then issued an order that temporarily placed a hold on the expanded program (although anyone who believes they are eligible for DACA under the pre-expansion guidelines may still apply).
Since initiating the lawsuit to block these programs, Texas has been joined by Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
These states contend that by granting deferred action to millions of undocumented immigrants, these states would be forced to either provide services to these immigrants or change their state laws to avoid doing so. And Texas specifically argued that if these programs were approved, the state would be required to spend millions of dollars to provide driver’s licenses and unemployment insurance.
As of June 2015, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has granted DACA status to about 1 million individuals and denied it to about 50,000