U.S. Supreme Court to review executive action on immigration

The president’s attempt to expand DACA and start DAPA will finally get its day in court.

Court watchers have been waiting to see what would happen to the lawsuit that has stalled President Obama's executive actions on immigration. A resolution is in sight: the U.S. Supreme Court agreed in January 2016 to hear the case and a decision is expected this summer.

Since our last article on this subject, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit refused for a second time to lift the stay issued by the federal trial court in Texas. That nationwide injunction had ordered that President Obama's November 2014 executive action to expand the DACA program and establish the DAPA program be put on hold until the merits of the suit are resolved.

To recap: the lawsuit was brought by a coalition of 26 states that opposed the president's actions, which have the potential to provide immigration relief to millions of eligible undocumented immigrants who have lived productive and nonviolent lives in this country. The focus on DACA and DAPA is consistent with the president's direction to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services or USCIS, the main federal agency charged with enforcing our immigration laws, to focus limited federal resources on deporting undocumented immigrants who pose a security or public safety risk, rather than law-abiding people.

The Supreme Court will consider four legal issues in the lawsuit:

  • Do the 26 states that brought the suit have standing to do so, meaning the legal right to request court relief in this particular situation?
  • Did the president act within his legal authority?
  • Did the president's action amount to an attempt to enact a rule or regulation that would require a public notice and time for comment before enactment?
  • Did the president comply with the U.S. Constitution's take care clause that requires him to take care to faithfully carry out the nation's laws?

It is important that people know that the pending lawsuit does not block the pre-existing DACA program that is still accepting initial and renewal applications. USCIS provides extensive and detailed information on its website about DACA.

Basically, a successful DACA applicant will receive a promise from USCIS not to attempt to deport or remove the person from the country for two years, during which time the person will also be allowed to work legally, subject to renewal upon successful reapplication. Anyone with eligibility questions or who needs assistance with the extensive application process should speak with an experienced immigration attorney for assistance.

The Quinn Law Firm in Greensboro, North Carolina, serves clients in immigration matters, including DACA applications and renewals.