Yesterday’s ruling by a federal district judge in south Texas temporarily delaying the implementation of the Obama Administration’s new expanded deferred action for children (DACA) and deferred action for parents of U.S. citizen children (DAPA) was not unexpected: that Republican-appointed judge had previously publicly criticized the Obama administration on immigration issues. The Administration immediately announced that it would appeal the injunction to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and then to the U.S. Supreme Court, if necessary. The legal maneuvering will delay the implementation of the new programs until the legal issues are resolved, but the end result may well be beneficial. Should the 5th Circuit or U.S. Supreme Court ultimately find that the Administration does in fact have legal authority to enact such programs, much of the uncertainty causing potential applicants to forego the opportunity will have been removed. On the other hand, if the Administration is found to have exceeded its authority with the new programs, it is only a matter of time before opponents also challenge the existing DACA program on the same basis.
Beyond the lawsuit, congressional Republicans are also fighting to stop the President’s immigration actions by threatening to withhold funding of the Department of Homeland Security unless legislation is passed specifically blocking the implementation of DACA and DAPA. Thus far, Senate Democrats have prevented the Senate from voting on such legislation and the fight resumes next week when Congress returns to Washington.