U.S. Supreme Court to decide fate of president’s action on immigration

The high court agreed in January 2016 to hear the case, with a decision likely this summer.

In November 2014, President Barack Obama famously announced that because of congressional failure to take meaningful action on immigration, he was taking initiative to do so within his power as the nation's chief executive. As we described in our last article on the president's executive action on immigration, a coalition of 26 states brought a lawsuit to block his efforts.

The federal judge in that suit granted a temporary injunction blocking the president's expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, known as the DACA program, and launch of Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents or DAPA, until resolution of the underlying lawsuit. Since our last article, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit twice upheld the trial court's injunction and the administration requested review by the U.S. Supreme Court, which was granted on January 19, 2016.

The Supreme Court will potentially consider up to four issues in the case:

  • Whether the states have the right to bring the lawsuit, called standing
  • Whether the president's actions were legal
  • Whether the president's actions were in essence rules or regulations, which must undergo a public notice-and-comment period before taking effect
  • Whether the president violated the take care clause of the U.S. Constitution that requires him to take care to faithfully execute the law

News reports say that the case will likely be argued before the high court in April followed by a decision in June. If the justices uphold the president's actions, the programs could potentially provide relief from deportation and permission to work for millions of undocumented immigrants with productive, nonviolent records during their time in this country.

The DACA program continues to accept new and renewal applications for two-year deportation deferrals. This program has been operating since 2012; it is only the president's expansion of eligibility that is tied up in the lawsuit. Basically, the program provides deportation relief and work authorization to eligible undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, have completed certain educational or military accomplishments and have remained relatively crime free.

Anyone who may be eligible for DACA or who has a loved one who may be should speak with a lawyer about the criteria and application process. Applications are expensive and detailed and must be supported by detailed documentation, so engaging legal counsel to assist with the application is a wise idea, particularly because it is very difficult to obtain any kind of review or appeal of a denied DACA application.

The Nashville, Tennessee, immigration attorneys at Ozment Law fight for the rights of immigrants in Greater Nashville and throughout Middle Tennessee.