In a ruling issued late on Monday night of this week, Texas federal judge Andrew Hanen issued a temporary injunction blocking the implementation of the President’s planned executive action that aims to help the estimated five million undocumented foreign nationals in the U.S. who require a change in the immigration law in order to obtain legal status.
The Lawsuit: Texas v. United States
The lawsuit before Judge Hanen was comprised of 26 state governments who filed the suit against the United States government in order to enjoin (i.e., prevent) the federal government from implementing the new DAPA and the expanded DACA programs that the President announced in November 2014.
The expanded DACA program, which was originally scheduled to take effect on February 18, 2015, removes the previous age restriction from the old program, thereby allowing potentially hundreds of thousands of previously ineligible foreign nationals to qualify for the DACA benefits of work authorization and deferred action (temporary suspension) of their deportation proceedings.
The new DAPA program, which is scheduled to take effect in mid-May 2015, is a similar program for parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents. Approved applicants under this program would also receive work authorization and deferred action.
Judge Hanen’s Ruling
In his ruling, Judge Hanen issued an injunction, which is a legal mechanism that works to temporarily stop the federal government from implementing DAPA and DACA.
In their complaint, the states alleged that the implementation of DAPA and DACA would be irreversible for all practical purposes, and that the President acted beyond the scope of his Constitutional powers by using executive orders to irreversibly change the law. While Judge Hanen did not address the case’s Constitutional issues, he still granted the injunction on the basis that the states articulated a strong argument that the President had not abided by the correct procedures in creating the two programs. It was the judge’s opinion that a full trial is necessary to resolve these issues, and thus the injunction is needed to maintain the status quo until the conclusion of the trial.
Unsurprisingly, members of the undocumented community and immigrant advocacy groups have largely decried the court’s ruling and have publicly voiced their disappointment in the outcome of the case.
The Administration’s Response to Texas v. United States
While obviously unhappy with the decision, President Obama has confirmed that he has no intentions of instructing the government to proceed with the implementation of DACA and DAPA until these legal issues are resolved.
Additionally, the Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson issued a public statement on the lawsuit and stated that the Department of Justice (DOJ) plans to appeal the injunction, but in the meantime will respect the decision announced by the federal court. In addition to the appeal, it is possible that the DOJ may request an emergency stay from the Circuit Court of Appeals, which is a legal mechanism that would basically override Judge Hanen’s injunction.
As the saying goes, “So close, yet so far.” It truly is heartbreaking to think of the hundreds of thousands of DACA applicants who were prepared and ready to file their applications until the announcement of Judge Hanen’s decision on Monday night. Hopefully, these issues will be resolved quickly so that the President’s common-sense executive action can move forward as soon as possible. Continue to check with our blog for the most up to date news on the executive action and all other immigration-related issues.
Additional Blog Posts:
The Government’s War on H-1Bs, ImmigRantings, October 11, 2012
Obama Signs Immigration Executive Order, ImmigRantings, June 15, 2012
Problems with the H-1B visa: From Work Horse to Show Pony, ImmigRantings, February 13, 2012