On November 20, 2014, President Obama announced that he would use his Executive powers to pass a package of immigration reforms that could potentially help approximately 4 million people. Now, about one year later, these actions continue to be thwarted. A recent decision by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that those executive actions must remain blocked. In other words, all the actions that President Obama proposed, cannot be implemented. This is bad news for the president as well as all those that could benefit from these actions.
If you recall, among the reforms he announced was to increase border security, implement a deferred action program for certain individuals, and make improvements to the adjudication of business and family-based applications including expanding the reach of the provisional waiver, improving the visa application process, and promoting citizenship. Additionally, one of the major and most controversial actions was to implement the Deferred Action of Parents of Americans (DAPA) program, which would have given millions of undocumented aliens work authorizations. Also, it would have expanded the already existing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. All these proposals would have arguably improved the immigration system and help many of those that are already living in the U.S. without proper documentation.
Almost immediately after President Obama made his announcement last year, many different entities filed suit in federal court to challenge the president’s proposals. The Texas federal court eventually granted a preliminary injunction against the president’s actions, and was blocked in February of 2015. That decision was appealed and upheld. The Court ruled that President Obama’s proposed executive actions violated the Administrative Procedure Act, which outlines how federal agencies can establish regulations. However, the Department of Justice announced that they are still committed to taking some steps to resolve this case as quickly as possible and improve the immigration system. This may mean that they will appeal the 5th Circuit’s decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. Of course, another appeal will be costly to all those that can benefit, since an appeal to the Supreme Court can take years.
This recent news was a blow for many who were anxiously awaiting the court’s response on its injunction on the president’s actions. However, all hope is not lost. Now, we wait for the next phase in the litigation. Meanwhile, beware of those who offer services related to the president’s proposals.