Reuben S. Seguritan

Despite Latest DAPA Setback Immigrants Remain Hopeful

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President Obama’s Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) program and Expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) continue to be held up in the courts. With the recent unfavorable ruling of the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Obama administration has appealed to the United States Supreme Court on November 20, 2015.

For the immigrant community that has long been waiting to benefit from the programs, the decision is very disappointing. 

Under the DAPA program, eligibility for deferred action is extended to certain parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents. Under the expanded DACA program, the age cap of 31 years under the original program is eliminated and the eligibility cut-off date for continuous residence in the U.S. is moved from June 15, 2007 to January 1, 2010. Some five million immigrants were expected to benefit from the programs. 

This is the second time that the Fifth Circuit ruled against the administration. It can be recalled that after U.S. District Judge Hanen refused to lift the temporary injunction he issued on February 16, 2015, the government filed a motion for an “emergency stay” of the order. The Fifth Circuit, in a 2-1 decision, denied the government’s emergency request to lift Judge Hanen’s injunction.

The administration decided not to bring the emergency request to the U.S. Supreme Court. They focused instead on their appeal of U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen’s decision. On November 9, 2015, the Fifth Circuit, once again, in a 2-1 decision, ruled against the government and upheld the lower court’s injunction. The Obama administration has formally requested the U.S. Supreme Court to review the Fifth Circuit decision by filing a petition for certiorari.

Meanwhile, the Texas Attorney General’s office has requested the U.S. Supreme Court for more time to respond to the administration’s appeal.  If the U.S. Supreme Court denies his request, a decision is expected in June 2016.

The Texas Attorney General in his request for extension to file his response indicated that the U.S. Supreme Court has “numerous pressing deadlines in other cases” pending before the administration filed its appeal. If the request of the Texas Attorney General is granted, it would most likely delay the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision until the mid-2017.

With the presidential elections coming up, advocates are speculating whether the U.S. Supreme Court will immediately review the case or delay its decision until the next president is elected into office. With the Republican candidates vowing to cancel the program and the Democratic candidates promising to expand it, the decision will have far-reaching implications.

Despite the delays and hurdles, the immigrant community remains hopeful. As Elsa Caballero, president of SEIU Texas aptly stated, “We have faith that the Supreme Court will ultimately rule in favor of American principles - of inclusion.” 

(Editor’s Note: REUBEN S. SEGURITAN has been practicing law for over 30 years. For more information, log on to www.seguritan.com or call 212-695-5281.)

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