Update on the lawsuit over DAPA and expanded DACA

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Photo Credit: National Immigration Law Center | @NILC_org

Photo Credit: National Immigration Law Center | @NILC_org

In November 2014 the President announced two programs to help immigrants.  One was Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and the other an expanded version of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).  Both programs would help long term immigrants living in the US, who do not have criminal records and meet certain other rules, obtain temporary legal status and work permits.  For more on those programs, visit our previous blog.

Various State Attorneys General (including South Carolina’s) challenged this administrative action, with Texas taking the lead.  In 2015 a federal judge in Texas issued a temporarily enjoined the executive orders, finding that President Obama might not have the authority to employ this administrative relief without going through certain procedures first. This injunction stopped the implementation of the executive orders for DAPA and expanded DACA.

After this ruling, the case was appealed to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.  The Judges on the panel agreed with the Texas federal judge and stopped DAPA and expanded DACA from going into effect.

Today the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) heard the case and could issue a ruling anytime between now and Summer 2016.  The Justices asked the lawyers on both sides to be ready to argue about several issues, including whether the states had the right to file the lawsuit to challenge the programs and whether the President had the power to enact the administrative relief without taking other steps first.  Depending on how the Justices rule on the issues will determine if DAPA and expanded DACA go into effect, remain permanently blocked or if more hearings are required in a lower court.

SC Appleseed supports the President’s administrative order because blocking the implementation of DAPA and expanded DACA benefits no one, but instead tears families apart and provides more work for the Department of Homeland Security.

SC Appleseed continues to advise people who qualify for DACA of 2012 to apply and/or renew their status, as appropriate, because DACA of 2012 is not enjoined and is fully operational.  For more information on that program go here. People should also prepare for DAPA and expanded DACA (see below on how to do this). However, people should not pay anyone any money for the programs, as they are currently blocked and there are no forms or official instructions for submitting a request for DAPA or expanded DACA.   Make sure to follow us, so you can stay informed.

Preparing for DAPA and Expanded DACA

  1. Obtain reputable information. Appleseed will continue to post important and reliable information. USCIS also will provide regular updates here and here.
  2. Save money for immigration fees and other needed documents.
  3. Gather documents showing identity. This could be birth certificates, marriage records, or current passports, to name a few.
  4. Gather documents showing presence in the US since January 1st 2010. This can be utility bills, leases, mortgages, school records and tax filings.
  5. Gather criminal records, arrest records, court orders and background checks, as this may impact a person’s ability to obtain legal status.
  6. Find out if vacating or expunging a criminal record is possible. If so, one might become eligible for immigration relief. Talk to a lawyer about this, as he or she will know the law.
  7. Speak to an attorney as soon as possible if there are previous or current orders of deportation or voluntary departure. These orders will have an impact on the chance of obtaining legal status. It may be possible to re-open some of these orders in special circumstances.
  8. Recognize that not everyone will qualify, but there will be time to find out if you do. It will be several months before anyone can apply for administrative relief.
  9. NEVER give someone money to “put you in line” or “hold your spot”. THIS IS A SCAM.
  10. Find out who can help with immigration matters. See SC Appleseed’s fact sheets in English here and in Spanish here.