Back in November 2014, President Barack Obama announced a series of administrative
immigration reforms known as the Immigration Accountability Executive
Action (IAEA). The main core of these reforms revolved around an expansion
of the currently effective Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and
Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals
(DACA) initiatives that would provide temporary relief from deportation
for some 5 million qualifying undocumented immigrants currently in the
The executive order authorized the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
to defer deportation for the parents of U.S. citizens and other permanent
residents who satisfy certain requirements for up to three years, as their
presence poses no real threat to the United States. The order was issued
with the hope that it would prompt Congress to take permanent action towards
a more comprehensive reform to U.S. immigration policy.
Pushback From the States
Shortly after the actions’ introduction, a Maricopa County, Arizona
Sheriff Joe Arpaio and representatives from 25 total states sued the Obama
administration over the legality of the orders. While many of these lawsuits
were dismissed, including Sheriff Arpaio’s, a Texas federal court
blocked the President’s DAPA and DACA expansions. This ruling would
be upheld in a Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upon appeal from the Department
of Justice, and is now currently being reviewed by the United States Supreme Court.
The lawsuits center on a policy dispute regarding how immigration agencies
should use their minimal enforcement resources. Additionally, the plaintiffs
claim that the executive actions violate the Constitution’s “Take
Care” clause on accusations that the President sought to change
the law rather than use his power to ensure the laws were faithfully executed.
The Obama administration has defended its actions on the grounds that
the President’s actions were a lawful use of prosecutorial discretion,
with the added argument that the states were not harmed and therefore
do not have legal standing to sue in the first place.
The Current Status of Obama’s DAPA & DACA Expansions
In January 2016, the Supreme Court began its review of the Fifth Circuit
Court’s decision. Several organizations and community leaders have
filed briefs with the Supreme Court in favor of the Obama administration’s
efforts, citing the benefits of expanded DAPA and DACA for families, the
American economy, and public safety as a whole.
Oral arguments were heard on the matter on April 18th, 2016, with discussion primarily focused on the issue of the states’
legal capacity to file suit. While the U.S. Solicitor General and the
Texas Solicitor General took the floor and argued during the majority
of the 90 minute session, members of the U.S. House of Representatives
and a representative from MALDEF were also allowed to address the court.
The Supreme Court has traditionally recognized the Executive Branch’s
authority to exercise prosecutorial discretion, as every president since
Dwight D. Eisenhower has used this authority in a similar capacity for
temporary immigration relief purposes. Nothing is certain as of yet regarding
the Supreme Court’s decision, though it appears that the Obama administration
may have the edge.
With that being said, the fate of DACA and DAPA may be affected by the
February 2016 passing of Justice Antonin Scalia. With only eight justices
voting on the case in his absence this spring, the possibility of a split
decision could cause the case to be sent back down to the Texas district
court that blocked the executive orders in the first place. Regardless
of the outcome, however, one thing remains certain: there is still much
more work to be done to improve immigration in the United States.
Fort Lauderdale Immigration Lawyer
At Guerra Saenz, PL, our top-rated
Fort Lauderdale immigration attorneys have handled thousands of immigration cases and can provide the powerful
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