On May 26, 2015 a three judge panel for the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a request by the Obama administration to lift an injunction currently blocking aspects of President Obama’s executive action on immigration. The injunction, imposed by U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen on February 16, 2015, in response to a suit brought by representatives from 26 states opposing President Obama’s executive action, applied specifically to the creation of the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents program and the expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program—known as DAPA and DACA respectively.
If permitted to take effect, the DAPA and DACA programs would defer deportation and grant work authorization to approximately 4.4 million undocumented immigrants. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas issued its preliminary injunction pending review of the constitutional challenges that had been raised concerning the executive action. The U.S. Department of Justice subsequently filed an appeal and asked that the injunction be lifted in a bid to allow President Obama’s initiatives to take effect while the case brought by the states worked its way through the appeals process.
The 2-to-1 decision handed down by the Fifth Circuit rejected the Obama administration’s claims that the states in the underlying suit lacked standing. The panel also refused the administration’s request to limit the injunction to only those states involved in that suit, keeping in place the nationwide block instead.
While the Fifth Circuit’s decision not to lift the injunction during the course of the appeal delivered a significant setback to the Obama administration’s policy objectives, it does not yet resolve the fundamental legal issues in the underlying case. The Fifth Circuit must still consider and rule on the administration’s appeal of the injunction itself.
Other elements of President Obama’s executive action on immigration, such as the extension of work authorization to H-4 spouses of H-1B visa holders in certain situations, are not implicated in the current suit. Those provisions will proceed unaffected.