What is the status of President Obama’s DAPA and expanded DACA Programs?

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We are patiently and optimistically waiting for the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to make a decision on whether to allow the Department of Homeland Security to implement the DAPA and expanded DACA programs while the Courts decide whether the DAPA and DACA programs themselves are legal.

On November 20, 2014, President Obama announced that his administration would implement a Deferred Action program for Parents of American Citizens and Residents (DAPA) and expand the existing Deferred Action program for Children (DACA).

The DAPA program allows parents of U.S. citizen and lawful permanent resident children to receive Deferred Action and apply for a temporary (3 year) Work Card if they have lived in the United States since at least January 1, 2010, do not have a removal order entered against them after January 1, 2014, were physically present in the United States on November 20, 2014 and do not have any serious criminal history.

The expanded DACA program allows individuals to receive Deferred Action and apply for a temporary (3 year) Work Card if they entered the United States under the age of 16, lived in the United States since at least January 1, 2010, graduated from a U.S. high school or received a GED or are currently enrolled in school, and if they do not have a serious criminal record.

Each of these programs provides some temporary relief for undocumented individuals and families who reside in the United States and contribute to and enrich our communities.

On February 16, 2015, U.S. District Court Judge Hanen issued a preliminary injunction in Texas v. United States.  In Texas v. United States, 26 states challenged the President’s authority to implement DAPA and expand DACA.  The preliminary injunction temporarily blocked the implementation of the DAPA and expanded DACA programs until the Federal Court is able to rule on whether the President has the authority to implement these programs in the first place.   

Since Judge Hanen’s issuance of the injunction we have been eagerly awaiting further developments to ascertain whether and when we can expect the Deferred Action programs to be implemented.  In March, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed to expedite the government’s appeal of Judge Hanen’s preliminary injunction and scheduled a date to consider whether or not it should stay (temporarily lift) the preliminary injunction while it considers its broader legality, including the issue of whether the states challenging the DAPA and expanded DACA programs have legal standing to challenge the programs at all.

On April 17, 2015 the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals held a hearing on whether it should stay the preliminary injunction issued by Judge Hanen.  In other words, the Fifth Circuit is to decide whether or not the DAPA and expanded DACA programs should be permitted to go forward while the Court considers the legality of the programs themselves, or whether the programs should be halted until the Court makes a final decision on their legality.

As of May 5, 2015, we are still waiting for a decision on whether the Fifth Circuit will stay the injunction to these programs, or whether the Court will deny the stay and leave Judge Hanen’s  Preliminary Injunction in place.

If the Court decides to stay the preliminary injunction, the DAPA and expanded DACA programs could be implemented very quickly.  If the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals declines to stay the temporary injunction we will have to wait many more months until the Courts make a final decision regarding the President’s authority to implement the DAPA and DACA programs.

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Kolko & Associates is a full service immigration and naturalization law firm providing professional legal services to individuals and businesses throughout Colorado, the Rocky Mountain West, the United States, and the World. Our professional staff speaks English, Spanish, Korean, German, and Slovak, and we can arrange for translators in any other language.