Court Blocks Expanded DACA, DAPA; Obama Administration Appeals
On February 23, 2015, the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed paperwork to seek a stay of a federal district court decision to block temporarily some of President Obama’s latest executive actions on immigration. That decision was in response to a lawsuit by 26 states. The blocked programs include an expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which had been set to start in February, and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA), which was scheduled to begin in May.
U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen of the Federal District Court for the Southern District of Texas, in Brownsville, ruled in favor of blocking the programs on February 16. Judge Hanen said the programs would impose major burdens on states and that the Obama administration exceeded its authority in changing federal rules.
The temporary injunction does not block the existing DACA program, only the expansion announced in November 2014. Individuals may continue to request initial grants or renewals of DACA under the guidelines established in 2012, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson stated. He also noted that other actions announced in November 2014 were not affected by the ruling, including prioritizing enforcement efforts.
Secretary Johnson issued a statement on February 17 saying that he “strongly disagree[d]” with the District Court’s temporary injunction blocking the programs, but that his agency would not begin accepting requests for expanded DACA on February 18 as originally planned, and would suspend plans to accept DAPA requests until further notice. ” The Department of Justice, legal scholars, immigration experts and even other courts have said that our actions are well within our legal authority. Our actions will also benefit the economy and promote law enforcement. We fully expect to ultimately prevail in the courts, and we will be prepared to implement DAPA and expanded DACA once we do,” he said.
Meanwhile, President Obama fielded immigration questions at a “town hall”-style meeting on February 25, 2015, conducted by MSNBC and Telemundo. Noting that the Senate had passed comprehensive immigration reform in 2013 but that House Republicans refused to bring the bill to the floor for a vote, he said he had decided to use his executive authority to “try to make sure that we are prioritizing our immigration system a lot smarter than we’ve been doing.” He stressed the importance of voting to change related laws. He also noted that he would veto legislation intended to eliminate his executive actions.
- The preliminary injunction (PDF).
- The Obama administration’s statement on Texas v. United States
- Information on DAPA (PDF)
- Information on the recent executive actions on immigration
- A February 11 FAQ