Serving Both Businesses And Individuals

President’s immigration initiative will finally get its day in court

The U.S. Supreme Court will finally decide the legality of the president’s executive actions on immigration, including DAPA and expanded DACA.

Based on his powers as the nation's chief executive, President Obama announced major immigration measures in November 2014. In February 2015, as part of a federal lawsuit to block his actions, a nationwide temporary injunction stopped implementation of two key components of the president's programs: DAPA and expanded DACA.

The suit was brought by a coalition of 26 states. Kentucky was not one of them.

Since our earlier May 2015 article about the president's executive action on immigration and the lawsuit filed to block it, the suit has wound its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. After the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit twice upheld the U.S. District Court's temporary injunction, the federal government asked the high court to hear the case, which it agreed to do on January 19, 2016.

The executive action

President Obama wants to concentrate limited government immigration assets on deportation of undocumented immigrants who threaten public safety and national security, rather than on removal of those who live here peacefully and contribute to society.

In that spirit, he ordered expansion of the DACA program and implementation of the DAPA program. DACA or the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals started in 2012 to protect undocumented immigrants who arrived in this country as children, meet certain educational or military requirements and have relatively clean criminal records. Successful applicants are granted deferred-action status protecting them from government action to deport them for two years, subject to renewal, during which they may also work with permission.

President Obama wanted to expand the pool of people eligible for DACA and extend the amnesty period to three years.

If implemented, Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents or DAPA would provide comparable relief to parents of citizens and lawful residents who meet similar qualifications.

The Supreme Court

The court will likely decide the case by summer 2016 according to court watchers. The justices will consider four main legal issues:

  • Do the states as plaintiffs have standing to bring this lawsuit? In other words, would they be sufficiently harmed by the executive action to merit access to court for a remedy?
  • The president's actions were characterized as guidance to federal immigration officials, but are they in essence new regulations subject to a legal requirement of a formal public notice and comment process?
  • Was the action within the legal discretion of the president as executive?
  • Did the action violate the constitutional requirement that the president take care to faithfully execute laws?

Until the Supreme Court decides the matter, the original DACA program remains fully operational and is accepting initial and renewal applications. Anyone with questions about DACA or potentially DAPA or who requires assistance with such an application should speak with a lawyer for guidance.

The attorneys of Vickerstaff Law Office, PSC, in Louisville, Kentucky, advocate for clients facing immigration issues in the Louisville metro area, throughout the state and in south Indiana.