President Obama’s Executive Order Advancing Immigration
President Obama’s Nov. 2014 executive order advancing immigration reform was delayed earlier this year after a Texas federal judge temporarily blocked implementation of DAPA and expanded DACA programs. Read on for a history of the litigation and an update on the latest events.
History of President Obama’s Executive Order with Update
On Nov. 20, 2014, President Obama announced an executive order expanding DACA and creating a new program for undocumented parents of U.S. citizens and green card holders: Deferred Action for Parental Accountability, also known as DAPA.
We’ve put together a special section on immigration reform, where you can find detailed information on how these programs will help millions of undocumented families stay and work in the United States.
Shortly after the President’s announcement, 26 states filed a federal lawsuit in Texas seeking to stop implementation of the executive order. Those states argued that the executive action was unconstitutional, amounted to the federal government’s refusal to enforce the immigration laws, and would result in an unwelcome flood of foreign nationals into the U.S. as well as create a financial burden for all states. On Feb.16, 2015, a Brownsville, Texas U.S. District Court judge court issued a temporary injunction (i.e. an indefinite delay in implementation) halting nationwide implementation of the executive action until he ultimately decides the case.
A week later, the U.S. Justice Department, representing the federal government, filed an emergency motion asking the judge to stay (i.e. suspend) the injunction while the case proceeded. After nearly three weeks without a decision on their motion, the Justice Department on March 12, 2015 asked the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to do the same.
Fifteen states, the District of Columbia, the mayors of New York and Los Angeles, 71 additional cities and counties, a number of civil rights organizations, 109 law professors, and 181 members of Congress filed friend of the court arguments urging the 5th Circuit to grant the federal government’s request and allow the executive action provisions to move forward.
On May 26, 2015, the 5th Circuit, in a 2-1 decision, refused to immediately lift the temporary injunction against the presidential order, with the result that the hold on implementation of DAPA and expanded DACA remained in place. The Justice Department thereafter filed an expedited appeal of that decision. Despite the expedited nature of the appeal, the 5th Circuit took more than five months to address it, and on Nov. 9, 2015, issued a 2-1 decision upholding the District Court’s stay of the presidential order. The dissenting judge wrote that the majority opinion was a “mistake” that “has been exacerbated by the extended delay that has occurred in deciding the ‘expedited’ appeal.”
Although this recent decision looks like a defeat, it is actually an opening that paves the way for timely resolution of the case. On Nov. 20, 2015 the Justice Department asked the Supreme Court to review the lower courts’ decisions. Prompt action in the Supreme Court means the case could be resolved by the end of the June 2016 court term.
Our opinion: Giving a single state the power to deny implementation of a nationwide federal program supported by many states and cities is a dangerous precedent. The case also represents a drastic departure from the grant of immigration relief for immigrant groups in need practiced by every President since at least 1956. To put it simply, the 5th Circuit’s split decision is out of line with precedent and should be reversed.
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