A little over a year ago Obama announced the introduction of new deferred action programs that would provide work authorization to millions of undocumented individuals currently in the U.S. DACA II (for students who arrived in the U.S. before 2010) was set to begin in February of this year. DAPA (for parents of U.S. citizen and permanent resident children) would have started in May. However, a lawsuit filed in December of last year resulted in a temporary injunction (freeze) on these programs while a federal judge considers the legality of them.
Over the past year this case has been meandering through the legal process. Obama appealed the temporary injunction to the Fifth circuit. That court upheld the injunction. The case is now before the United States Supreme Court.
Last week the states that sued Obama asked the Supreme Court to grant them a lengthy extension for written arguments. This extension request would have resulted in kicking the case off the Court’s schedule for 2016, effectively continuing the temporary injunction until potentially 2017. The Supreme Court saw through this veiled attempt at delay and only granted an extension of eight days which means they could hear oral arguments as early as this spring and issue a decision potentially early summer.
Most legal analysts believe that the Supreme Court would rule in Obama’s favor, thus ending the temporary injunction. What would this mean for undocumented immigrants? A favorable ruling would end the freeze on the programs and US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) would be able to begin accepting applications as soon as they have forms ready for distribution.
However, it is important to note that the issue before the Supreme Court is only the temporary injunction. The federal lawsuit Texas v. U.S. is still pending before Judge Hanen in Brownsville, Texas. At the conclusion of that lawsuit the judge could issue a permanent injunction on these deferred action programs.
So the question on many immigration attorneys minds is: what if the Supreme Court vacates the temporary injunction and the programs go into effect but before or shortly after that Judge Hanen concludes the case with a permanent freeze on the program?
The answer to that question is unknown at this time. The answer I am giving to my clients at this time is to have cautious optimism. Any deferred action program could be cancelled at any time by future presidents. Next year is an election year and depending who wins, that could throw a completely different set of complications into the mix.
We continue to advise potential clients not to pay money to anyone with the hope of a deferred action program starting soon. We also urge everyone to know all the potential risks and benefits before entering a deferred action program – or filing any immigration applications for that matter.
Molina Law Group serves clients throughout the U.S. We would be happy to speak with you about your case to help you explore all possible options. Call us today to reserve your consultation!