This week the Supreme Court announced that it would hear and decide the case filed by Texas and additional states to block President Obama’s November 2014 executive action establishing Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and expanding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), in existence since July 2012.
The outcome of this case is projected to affect as many as five million undocumented foreign nationals. A decision upholding the executive action would grant temporary authorization for these individuals to work in the U.S. and remain here with their families. The DAPA program benefits eligible parents of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents who have been living in the U.S. since January 1, 2010 and have no legal status here.
Shortly after announcing DAPA, the Republican attorney general of Texas filed a lawsuit to block it. In response, a U.S. District Court judge granted a temporary injunction, halting nationwide implementation of DAPA. The federal government asked that judge to postpone the injunction. Receiving no response, the federal government then asked a higher court to stay the lower court’s injunction while they appealed. The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals refused to stay the injunction, and the federal government thereafter asked the Supreme Court to hear the case. The federal government will argue the case before the Supreme Court this April with a decision expected in June. The White House praised the Supreme Court’s decision to hear the case, declaring that it is “confident that the policies will be upheld as lawful.”
Opponents of the executive order argue that the President overreached his authority and bypassed Congress in establishing DAPA. Texas claims that it will be unduly burdened economically by DAPA in having to issue more driver’s licenses to undocumented foreign nationals. This, Texas claims, will cost the state millions because Texas subsidizes the cost of granting drivers licenses.
If the Supreme Court grants the federal government’s appeal to go forward with DAPA, President Obama will have just seven months to implement the program before the next president is sworn in. “The deferred action policies announced by the president in November 2014 will provide greater opportunities for immigrants to contribute to our society — opportunities for young people who came to our nation as children and grew up pledging allegiance to our flag, as well as parents of US citizens and lawful permanent residents who have lived here for years and are already making contributions to our communities and economy,” White House spokesperson Brandi Hoffine said in an emailed statement. Predictably, Republican presidential candidates have vowed to repeal DAPA if elected.
The stakes are high in that the Supreme Court’s decision will affect more than the millions of undocumented foreign nationals eligible for DAPA. The future scope of the executive branch’s constitutionally mandated power in the area of immigration is at issue, as well as the balance of power between Congress and the President and the rights of states to challenge the implementation of executive orders.
Look to Antonini and Cohen for periodic updates in this case as developments occur.