By Attorney Cynthia Exner
On November 20, 2014, President Obama announced five executive actions. Two of these actions were very controversial: expansion of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and DAPA (Deferred Action for Parental Accountability).
The DACA expansion includes any person born after June 15, 1981 who came to the United States before their 16th birthday and has had continuous residence in the United States since January 1, 2010.
The DAPA program would grant legal presence to parents of U.S. citizen children or permanent resident children born on or before November 20, 2014, who have resided continuously in the United States since January 1, 2010, and are not severe criminals.
The DACA expansion was to start on February 17, 2015 and the DAPA program was to begin on May 18, 2015.
However, 25 states banded together and brought a lawsuit against the White House. On February 16, 2015, a federal judge in Texas issued a preliminary injunction against President Obama’s DAPA and expanded DACA programs, thereby putting both programs on hold.
There are an estimated 11 million undocumented persons living in the United States. DAPA would have halted deportation/removal against many undocumented immigrant-parents of legal children. Taken together, the DACA and DAPA programs were expected to include about half of those 11 million people.
The White House appealed the injunction against DAPA and DACA to the 5th Circuit of the Court of Appeals in New Orleans, Louisiana, asking that the injunction be lifted or that the injunction be limited only to those 25 states bringing the lawsuit. Briefs were filed in the appeal in early April, and approximately 150 advocacy groups filed a brief, and 15 states plus the District of Columbia filed their own briefs. On top of that, 73 mayors and county officials, 181 members of Congress, and 109 other community leaders filed their own briefs!
The 5th Circuit of the Court of Appeals decided the appeal on May 26, 2015, denying President Obama’s appeal to lift the preliminary injunction of expanded DACA and DAPA. The U.S. Court of Appeals consisted of a three-judge panel, and two of the three judges on the panel decided to leave the injunction in place, finding that the states had sufficient legal grounds for the initial injunctive lawsuit and that the White House had not shown that it would be harmed if DAPA and DACA were further delayed and refusing to limit the injunction.
So, for now, the new DAPA program for parents of U.S. citizen children, and the expanded DACA program for young persons who came to the United States before January 1, 2010, remain on hold. Alternatively, applicants are considering having family members apply for them, even if the waiting period will be very long (currently a U.S. citizen brother or sister applying for a sibling is backlogged about 13+ years) or for a U-visa as the victim of a crime in the United States, or occasionally as the witness to a crime in the United States. A U-visa allows employment authorization, travel and may include family members.
Cynthia R. Exner is an immigration attorney at the Danbury office of the Immigration Law Offices of Cynthia R. Exner, 270 Main Street, Danbury, CT. If you have any questions relating to this topic, you can contact Attorney Exner at 203-830-4045 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.