Disappointing many, the U.S. Supreme Court has tied 4-4 in a case appealing a nationwide injunction on the Obama Administration’s executive action expanding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and creating the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) programs. United States v. Texas, No. 15-674 (June 23, 2016).
The eagerly anticipated decision will have a far-reaching and adverse impact to millions of undocumented immigrants. The Supreme Court deadlock upheld the appeals court ruling and continues to block programs. The effect of the decision means that up to five million undocumented immigrants may not be allowed legal work authorization in the United States or be protected from deportation.
The Obama Administration utilized executive action to create DACA in 2012. Under DACA, certain undocumented immigrants who arrived as minors were able to defer deportation and receive employment authorization. The Administration expanded DACA and introduced DAPA in 2014 with further executive action. The DACA expansion would have increased the period of employment authorization for DACA beneficiaries to three years, instead of two. DAPA would have allowed parents of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents (green card holders) to apply for deferred deportation and employment authorization.
In February 2015, Judge Andrew S. Hanen of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas entered a preliminary injunction, blocking the 2014 DACA expansion and DAPA creation. The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, in New Orleans, affirmed the lower court’s injunction. The Obama Administration appealed the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision strongly indicates that executive action on immigration on a widespread basis may be difficult in the future and any chance of immigration reform may not be possible without Congressional involvement. It also indicates that immigration will continue to be a high priority in the upcoming Presidential and Congressional elections.