What the DAPA/DACA Delay Means for Immigrants in the USA

February 21, 2015 12:32 pm
by David Jakeman

President Obama’s new Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals should have begun accepting applications this week, on February 18, 2014. Instead, the news channels and internet blogs were filled with talk of an injunction that will stop the government from accepting these applications. CNN estimates that this temporary roadblock will affect as many as 5 million undocumented immigrants.

This decision was based on a technical argument, which says that the Obama administration failed to comply with the Administrative Procedure Act, with requires that the White House offer a notification and comment period before action. This decision is not final, and does not say that the Deferred Action Programs are constitutional or unconstitutional. Texas, and 26 other states involved in the action argue that states could suffer “irreparable harm” in carrying out the new rules. Part of the harm alleged is that it will cost the states money to issue newly authorized immigrants a driver’s license. Even if the judge finds that the lack of notice violated the law, it does not mean that DACA or DAPA will end.

In the government’s argument against the temporary delay, the Obama administration has cited the Supreme Court, saying that the federal government, and President Obama, have the power to set immigration enforcement priorities like Deferred Action. The White House Press Secretary said, these “policies are consistent with the laws passed by Congress and decisions of the Supreme Court, as well as five decades of precedent by presidents of both parties who have used their authority to set priorities in enforcing our immigration laws.”

While President Obama has publicly stated that he will abide by the current order, he said he is confident that the process will resume soon, and that the Justice Department is planning to appeal the decision to allow immigrants to submit their applications and receive permission to work.

Immigration attorneys and advocates are still collecting evidence for their Deferred Action clients, and plan to have cases ready for review as soon as the injunction has been lifted. Also, it is important to remember that Democratic and Republican Presidents, such as Ronald Regan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush, have issued orders which deferred deportations in the past. This delay is frustrating for clients, but not a reason to stop collecting evidence to be ready when applications resume.

Tags: ,