Photo Courtesy: Official White House Photo by Pete Souza [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Raul Ray, Esq.

     All across the country, undocumented immigrants have been anxiously waiting and holding out hope that the Obama deferred actions programs better known as the Expanded DACA and DAPA programs would take affect before the end of the year.

     On Monday, those hopes were dashed away when the U.S. Supreme Court denied the Obama Administration’s request for a rehearing in United States v. Texas to be held after the U.S. Senate confirmed a ninth Supreme Court Justice leaving intact the High Court’s 4-4 split decision in June.  Now it’s uncertain whether the Expanded DACA and DAPA programs, which could affect millions of people seeking the chance to live in this country with dignity, respect and the opportunity to achieve the American dream, will ever be implemented.

     The expanded DACA program was set to start on February 18, 2015 and the DAPA program was anticipated to start in May, 2015.  However, on February, 16, 2015, federal district judge Andrew S. Hanen, citing procedural grounds, stunned the Obama Administration by granting an injunction and halting the implementation of both programs. A panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals voted 2-1 to uphold judge Hanen’s ruling.  Then the Supreme Court handed down its 4-4 split decision in June leaving in place the lower court’s decision preventing the immigration programs from going into effect.

     William A. Stock, President of the American Immigration Lawyers Association commenting on the Supreme Court’s refusal to rehear the case noted,

“By refusing to rehear the case when nine justices are in place, the Supreme Court has once again allowed state governments to block federal policy initiatives with which they disagree. While this decision continues the harm caused to millions of American children and their families by Judge Hanen’s injunction, its effect on future federal-state relations may be what is most pernicious. As a result of the decisions in this case so far, future presidents of both parties may find their actions in a host of policy areas blocked by governors of the opposing party. However, this case is far from over. Once a more complete record of the merits of Texas’ claims is created, we are confident that when the case is once again back on the Supreme Court docket, the Court will show appropriate deference to the executive branch and not legislate from the bench by enjoining this program permanently.”

     The Obama administration had hope that the Court would agree to rehear the case before a full  panel of 9 justices that would include a new justice  nominated by Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Senate upon recommendation by the Senate Judiciary Committee.  Wishing thinking perhaps especially given the Republican controlled Senate Judiciary Committee’s reluctance to hold any hearings for Supreme Court judicial nominees until after a new president is elected.

     While the 2014 Obama deferred action programs apparently will not be moving forward anytime soon, there is still hope for the future as the legal challenges to these programs continue to be litigated in the Federal district court in Texas.  It’s not inconceivable that the case could eventually make its way back to the U.S. Supreme Court where hopefully it will be heard by a full panel of justices at that time.  The latest Supreme Court decision does not affect Obama’s original DACA program commenced in 2012.

      Eligible undocumented immigrants can still obtain the benefits of this program. Applicants granted deferred status pursuant to DACA 2012, can continue to renew their DACA status every two years unless the new president halts the program, or a new lawsuit is brought challenging the legality of the original DACA program.

Remember contact ONLY a qualified immigration lawyer or an accredited representative for legal advice or immigration relief concerning your case.  We will continue to keep you apprised on the very latest immigration news around the country.

For more information please feel free to contact Raul Ray, Attorney at Law, at Law Offices of Raul Ray, (408) 279-5793, 1671 The Alameda, Suite 200, San Jose, CA  95126.  Email: raylawfirm@aol.com.