On June 23, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a ruling in the case of United States v. Texas (2016), which had sought to decide, in the long term, whether the immigration reforms proposed by President Obama in November 2014 were, in fact, a proper exercise of executive power. The court, sitting with 8 members due to the passing of Justice Scalia and a failure to confirm a replacement, issued a one-line per curiam opinion. As a result of this failure to act, many immigrants remain either in a position where they must fear removal proceedings or are in status limbo.
The Ramifications Of The Ruling
The case at hand is not the wider question of whether President Obama’s Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) program is viable, but rather whether the states opposing it have standing to sue to stop it. Standing is a legal principle that states that a person must be injured ‘directly and concretely’ by something in order to be able to bring suit against it. Texas and 25 other states claimed injury, and thus standing, but the federal government opposed.
A per curiam opinion is an opinion authored collectively by the court (unlike most majority opinions and dissents, which are signed by anywhere up to four justices individually) that is usually non-precedential. In other words, it is an opinion that passes judgment (or declines to) on the case at hand but is specifically noted as having no value as a tool to interpret any cases in the future. The Supreme Court usually settles questions of law, given that theirs is the ultimate judicial authority in the United States. However, for reasons known only to the justices, they elected to punt, figuratively speaking - the opinion in U.S. v. Texas merely allows the states’ lawsuit to stop DAPA to continue, when many argue the law could have permitted the Court to halt the lawsuit in its tracks.
The administration has attempted to argue that DAPA is essentially a large grant of prosecutorial discretion, which is a long-accepted method of withholding removal for specific individuals with good moral character and ties to the country. The lower court was unsympathetic to this argument, and it may be that the Supreme Court will weigh in on the merits as well if the lawsuit progresses to that point. For the time being, as the Supreme Court has affirmed the ruling that the 26 states have standing to sue, the suit will progress.
Whether or not DAPA is eventually revived in a different form, immigrants are facing significant issues in the near future. Many had applied for the program and for work authorization - in fact, Judge Andrew Hanen, the jurist who issued the original injunction against enforcing the program, had to sanction Justice Department attorneys after the DOJ issued work authorizations to 2,500 undocumented immigrants in defiance of the order. With the validity of these authorizations (and many others) now null, undocumented immigrants have begun to expect Notices to Appear, which in theory may be issued as soon as one is out of lawful status. You may wind up being one of them if you had applied under DAPA (not DACA, as that program is untouched by the ruling).
Contact A Deportation Defense Attorney
The ruling in U.S. v. Texas has confused many people and frightened countless more. If you find yourself in a vulnerable position due to the Supreme Court’s decision, it is a good idea to contact an experienced immigration attorney. The passionate Chicago deportation defense lawyers at Mevorah Law Offices LLC can help answer your questions and work for the best possible outcome for you and your family. Contact us today to set up an initial appointment.
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