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Coming Soon to a Supreme Court Near You: Executive Actions on Immigration

Immigration Executive Actions – DAPA

On Tuesday, January 19, 2016 the Supreme Court announced that it will hear and consider the legal challenges to President Obama’s November 2014 Executive Actions focusing on Immigration.

The announcement means that the nation’s broadest immigration relief measures in decades will have their day in court. As we wrote previously, the Executive Actions—the most prominent feature of which was the Deferred Action for Parental Accountability program (“DAPA”)—were announced fourteen months ago, creating a pathway for up to five million unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. to make their status legal and obtain work authorization.

In order to qualify for the program, the applicant must generally: 1) Be a parent of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident; 2) have resided in the U.S. since 1/1/2010; 3) not pose a threat to public safety; 4) and not have a significant record of criminal or immigration violations.

Following the Executive Actions’ initial announcement in November of 2014, federal agencies worked quickly to implement the measures—ramping up the hiring of immigration officers and leasing a new Service Center in Arlington, Virginia. However, the preparations for implementation were stopped in their tracks. Several months after the initial announcement, a coalition of 26 states, led by Texas, filed a lawsuit challenging the Executive Actions, arguing that the President abused his power in decreeing the actions without the consent of Congress. A Texas District Court judge entered a preliminary injunction shutting down the program while the lawsuit proceeded, and, as we reported in November of 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, upheld the injunction.

Meanwhile, immigrants who qualify for the program, have been in limbo for fourteen months monitoring the progress of the case. Today’s Supreme Court announcement provides reason for hope. The Presidential Administration has asked the Court to move quickly, so that the program can begin accepting the applications of qualified immigrants during its tenure, and apparently, the Court has agreed. According to the Court’s calendar, it will hear the case in April, and likely issue its ruling in United States v. Texas, No. 15-674, by late June of 2016.


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