The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit rejected the Department of Justice's request to lift an injunction for two new immigration programs that were set to start this year. In November 2014, President Obama announced a series of executive actions on immigration, one of which was the expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and the implementation of a new program called Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA). In December 2014, 26 states filed a lawsuit in the Southern District of Texas arguing that by issuing these directives, the President had violated the Administrative Procedures Act and had overstepped his power. The court issued a preliminary injunction blocking the implementation of both programs until the case could be decided. The U.S. Department of Justice appealed the injunction to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans. Last week the Court of Appeals rejected the request to stay the injunction. Therefore, neither program will be implemented until the underlying case can be decided, a process which may take years of litigation.
The first program, expanded DACA, was set to be implemented in February 2015 when the US Citizenship and Immigration Services was to begin accepting applications. This expanded DACA would remove the age restriction from the original DACA program that was implemented in 2012 and allow undocumented individuals who have been continuously residing in the United States since January 1, 2010 to receive protection from removal and permission to apply for employment authorization. The original DACA program, among other requirements, contains an age restriction that the individual must have been under 31 years old as of June 15, 2012. The DAPA program was set to be implemented six months after the President's announcement and would grant the same benefits as the original DACA program, namely, protection from removal and the ability to apply for employment authorization to undocumented parents of U.S. citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents. The receipt of an employment authorization document has numerous benefits, such as the ability to obtain a social security card and potentially a driver's license or state identification, depending on the state of residence. The original DACA program that was implemented in 2012 remains in effect and those that are eligible can continue to renew this benefit.