Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision in the U.S. v. Texas case that addresses the DACA II and DAPA benefits sought by the Obama Administration. The following information will assist layman to understand the ripple effects of that decision:
Q: How did the Supreme Court rule in U.S. v. Texas?
A: On June 23rd, 2016, the Supreme Court issued a one-sentence per curiam ruling in U.S. v. Texas, simply stating, “The judgment is affirmed by an equally divided court.” The 4-4 deadlock effectively leaves in place the preliminary injunction that was issued on February 16th, 2015 by U.S. District court Judge Andrew Hanen, and affirmed by the Fifth Circuit, blocking the federal government from implementing two initiatives announced by President Obama in November 2014: the expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA II) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA). By affirming the Lower Court in this manner, the Court set no precedent with regard to any of the substantive issues in the case, including the threshold question of whether Texas and the other litigant states have standing to sue.
Q: How will the Court’s ruling affect people who are waiting to apply for these initiatives?
A: It is no secret that millions of young people and families have been living for years in the United States in an unauthorized status and at risk of deportation. In recognition of this reality, on June 15th, 2012, the Obama Administration announced the first DACA initiative for certain young people who came to the United States as children and meet other eligibility criteria. With Congress repeatedly failing to pass immigration reform in the preceding years and again in 2013, AILA and other organizations urged the president to provide temporary relief to other individuals, resulting in the announcement of DACA II and DAPA. The Court’s inability to render a majority decision in U.S. v. Texas means the administration’s initiatives remain blocked and individuals who would otherwise be eligible for DACA II or DAPA cannot apply at this time.
It has also been found that DACA provides recipients with greater access to educational opportunities and better jobs, thus contributing to the growth of businesses and the economy through increased tax contributions. Those additional benefits that DACA II and DAPA would have yielded will also remain on hold.
Q: Does the Court’s ruling impact DACA 2012?
A: The ruling does not directly impact the original DACA initiative launched in 2012. Previous grants of deferred action under DACA 2012 are not affected, and future applicants will still be able to apply for DACA 2012.
Q: What is the current status of U.S. v. Texas?
A: On July 18th, 2016, the federal government filed a petition for rehearing with the U.S. Supreme Court, urging the Court to “grant rehearing to provide for a decision by the Court when it has a full complement of Members, rather than allow a non-precedential affirmance by an equally divided Court to leave in place a nationwide injunction of such significance.”
The Court’s decision to grant rehearing is discretionary, and could take months. For example, in another case that yielded a 4-4 ruling this term, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, though the litigants requested rehearing in April, as of late June the Court still had not ruled on the petition. If the Court grants rehearing, it would likely not schedule the case until a ninth justice is confirmed, and it is likely that the Senate will not confirm a ninth justice until the new president takes office in 2017. As a result, re-argument would likely not be scheduled until the Court’s 2017-2018 term, and a decision would not be expected until 2018.
Q: Will DACA II and DAPA ever be implemented?
A: The Supreme Court i