Federal Judge’s Preliminary Decision on Expanded DACA & DAPA

Yesterday, a federal judge in Texas issued a preliminary decision that will temporarily delay the implementation of some of the executive actions announced by President Obama in November. We are disappointed by this setback, but believe it is just a bump in the road, and that eventually, both the expanded DACA program and DAPA program will be implemented. We want to let you know what the preliminary ruling means and what it does and does not impact.

The preliminary ruling is legally incorrect
We, along with most legal observers, believe that the ruling issued yesterday is legally incorrect and will eventually be overturned on appeal. While this ruling may shift the timing of the new programs, we remain confident that they will be upheld and implemented. We will continue our preparations to help community members who qualify to access them when the time comes.

The ruling does not impact or delay the existing DACA program
People who have already qualified under the original terms of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program can continue to apply and those who are renewing their DACA status can continue to do so. To find out how NWIRP is helping qualified individuals access this program, please visit nwirp.org/resources/dreamer.

The ruling delays the DACA expansion
In November, the President announced that the DACA program would be expanded to certain individuals who did not meet the original requirements when the program was announced in 2012. That expansion was due to be implemented tomorrow, February 18th, but this expansion is now on hold due to this ruling.

The ruling may delay the start of the DAPA program
DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans) is a program that will provide protection from deportation and work permits to undocumented individuals who are parents of US citizen or permanent resident children, have lived in the United States since January 1, 2010, and meet other requirements. This program was not expected to begin accepting applications until mid-May, and it is possible that yesterday’s ruling could be overturned before that time, but there is still a chance that this program will be delayed until after that time.

The ruling is temporary and will most likely be overturned
This ruling in no way ends either the expanded DACA program or the new DAPA program, it only temporarily suspends them. The White House has already issued a statement indicating that the Department of Justice will appeal this ruling. Legal experts are confident that the government’s appeal will overturn this ruling and that these important programs will be implemented.

The ruling is the result of political ideology, not of legal substance
The judge, Andrew S. Hanen of Federal District Court, has previously shown a strong dislike for the President’s immigration policies. The New York Times states, “Judge Hanen, who was appointed in 2002 by President George W. Bush, has excoriated the Obama administration’s immigration policies in several unusually outspoken rulings.” While his ruling is unfortunate, it is not unexpected, and it will certainly not be the final word on this case.

Moving forward
We recognize that this decision will create some confusion among many community members. As we have in the past several months, we will continue to work with our partners across the state and nation to help ensure that community members have access to reliable and up-to-date information. Please visit our website for the latest updates.

Additional background about the legal case
The preliminary ruling issued yesterday came in a lawsuit filed by the State of Texas and a number of other states seeking to block the President’s effort to make our immigration system more humane. The states that have filed the lawsuit have argued that the President did not have the legal authority to enact the reforms he announced in November, including the DAPA program and the expansion of DACA. As noted earlier, most legal observers disagree with these arguments.

It is important to note that Washington State, through our Attorney General Bob Ferguson, filed a brief on behalf of 12 states and the District of Columbia supporting the President’s efforts to reform the immigration system through executive actions.

The Department of Justice has already stated their intent to appeal yesterday’s ruling. It is possible that an appeals court could lift the injunction in the next few weeks and that the deferred action programs may therefore be able to move forward as originally anticipated. We will be sure to send out updates as soon as we know of any further developments.

As always, thank you for standing with us in the defense of immigrant rights,

Jorge L. Barón,
Executive Director