DACA/DAPA Before the SCOTUS

(This is the final part of our three-part series with a look at DACA in the courts and how recent developments in the US Supreme Court will affect this program)

In our previous articles, we spoke about the inception of DACA, the proposed DACA expansion and the creation of the DAPA program. While the implementation of the DACA expansion and the DAPA program have been stalled in the federal courts, the original DACA program is still fully operational.

From the beginning, there have been many proponents and critics of President Obama’s plans. On one side, representatives from 26 different states banded together to challenge the President’s initiatives. There is widespread support on the other side as well, with 15 states and the District of Columbia, 73 US mayors and county officials, 181 US Representatives, four US Senators, and numerous advocacy groups representing educators, children, and immigrants, as well as various civil rights, labor, immigrants’ rights groups and business interests.

As previously mentioned, a coalition of 26 states led by Ken Paxton, the Republican attorney general of Texas, filed for an injunction in a Texas federal district court to block the program’s expansion. On February 16, 2015, the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas granted a preliminary injunction against the DACA expansion and the implementation of DAPA. On November 9, 2015, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the district court’s order granting the preliminary injunction.

Recently, the Supreme Court decided to hear the case, captioned Texas v. United States, sometime in April. They will then have until June to make a ruling. While it is uncertain what their decision will be, it will undoubtedly have far-reaching implications for many immigrants and their families.

If the Supreme Court rules in favor of President Obama, immigration agencies will have a few months to implement DAPA and expanded DACA before the President leaves office. During this time, it would be extremely important for all interested parties to speak with an attorney and, if appropriate, to apply as soon as possible before USCIS is inundated with requests and backlogged.

If the Supreme Court rules against President Obama, it may spell the end for the DACA program as well. For some immigrants, it would be wise to apply for DACAmentation while the program is still in operation. However, there will always be an element of fear in presenting yourself before the government, especially after living under the radar for so long. For others, particularly ones with criminal history, it may be prudent to avoid notifying the government of your whereabouts until a more favorable immigration program comes about.