• Obama’s Expanded DACA and DAPA Programs Remain Blocked After Split Supreme Court Decision
  • July 11, 2016
  • Law Firm: Fragomen Del Rey Bernsen Loewy LLP - New York Office
  • In an evenly divided, 4-4 decision, the Supreme Court today blocked President Obama’s efforts to expand the pool of applicants eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and create a new program for parents of citizens and permanent residents, known as Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA). The case, United States v. Texas (No. 15-674), stems from a lawsuit filed in the District Court of Brownsville, Texas by 26 U.S. states seeking to bar the Obama Administration from enacting certain executive actions on immigration. The Supreme Court’s deadlocked, one-sentence decision effectively affirms the rulings of the district court and the Fifth Circuit, which required the shutdown of the programs while litigation ensues. The case will now return to the district court for a trial on its merits.

    The Court’s decision serves as a setback to over four million undocumented foreign nationals in the United States who would have benefited from expanded DACA and DAPA, which were announced in November 2014 as part of the President’s Executive Actions on Immigration and set to launch in early 2015. Expanded DACA was designed to broaden the 2012 DACA program and offer deportation relief and work authorization to a broader group of foreign nationals who arrived in the United States before they turned 16. Similarly, DAPA would have shielded unauthorized parents of citizens and permanent residents from deportation and provided them with work authorization so long as they passed extensive background checks and paid penalty fees and taxes.

    What This Means for Employers and Foreign Nationals

    Today’s ruling only affects those seeking relief under recently expanded DACA and DAPA. Foreign nationals who qualify under the originally launched DACA program will not be affected and can continue to file initial applications and renewals.
    Expanded DACA and DAPA will continue to be unavailable as this matter returns to the district court for trial. Given the current makeup of the district court as well as the Fifth Circuit, which would hear any appeals, it is highly unlikely that the Obama Administration will receive a favorable decision on these executive actions, and any changed outcome would have to occur before the Supreme Court.