What’s Happening to Obama’s Immigration Order?

Source: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Source: Scott Olson/Getty Images

President Barack Obama’s executive action with regards to immigration and deferred deportation has been a topic of much legal discussion. Both the Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) have been highly divisive issues.

The DAPA allows parents of U.S. citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents to avoid immediate deportation and allow work visas so parents can legally work, under a few conditions, one of which is a criminal background check.

DACA, as announced by the Secretary of Homeland Security in 2012, allows those who came to the U.S. while under the age of 18 to remain in the country for two years if they meet certain with potential for work authorization. A federal district court in Texas was called to rule on over 25 state lawsuits against the federal government in opposition to both DAPA and DACA, which claimed Obama’s actions were beyond the scope of his power as president.

The judge in Texas formerly ruled in favor of conservatives, leading to the recent filing of an amicus brief in early April. It wasn’t the only legal challenge made to the decision either; some 150 advocacy groups for various interests filed one brief collectively, and 15 states plus the District of Columbia filed their own briefs according to The American Immigration Council. On top of that, 73 mayors and county officials, 181 members of congress, and 109 other community leaders filed their own briefs.

What argument do supporters of a reversal to the ruling use?

There are a few different arguments going on to deny the legitimacy of the Texas court’s decision. One is the argument that the court needed to have seen that states were being hurt by DAPA and DACA, and that this was not proven; in fact, much the opposite. “The states have to show irreparable harm to get a preliminary injunction; they have not. The president’s directives are good for states; they are not harming states,” said Solicitor General Noah Purcell, of the Washington state Attorney General’s Office, according to the National Immigration Law Center.

Another side to the argument, as listed in the very beginning of the amicus brief, is the fact that the ruling against both deferred action measures will actually harm states and individuals in them. The brief is meant to give information “within their expertise demonstrating the harms that the injunction has caused and will continue to cause, the public interest in the Deferred Action Initiative, and the discretion afforded DHS officers under the initiative.”

The argument in summary is that those states that filed the lawsuit to begin with did so without enough legal justification and proof, and that the subsequent result is one of harm to states. This harm is both economic and social, and affects a variety of spheres.

How likely is the brief to end in positive results for immigrants?

The answer to this question depends largely on what panel hears the appeal, but so far signs point to an open mind in hearing the case. The New York Times reports that “an appeals court signaled that it might disagree with the judge” that made the initial decision, Judge Andrew S. Hanen.

Hanen, for his part, stands by his decision, and has also made it clear that he will not be allowing either executive decision to go into effect despite the appeal and has been publicly very critical that the government’s legal team did not divulge that parts of the deferred action program was already going into effect. “Fabrications, misstatements, half-truths, artful omissions and failure to correct misstatements may be acceptable, albeit lamentable, in other aspects of life,” said Hanen, according to the Boston Globe. “But in the courtroom, when an attorney knows that both the court and the other side are relying on complete frankness, such conduct is unacceptable.”

That is ultimately neither here nor there though, as even a complete freeze on all activity won’t alter the argument, and ultimately the decision made by the appealing panel will have the weight. Some legal bodies argue that the order to cease implementation of the executive action should be immediately set aside, but what will be more important is first, if the appeal takes issue with the Texas Judge’s decision, and second, what happens to these individuals following the 2016 election, and after the temporary deferral of deportation runs out.

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