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Texas Asks Supreme Court Justices to Block Obama Administration’s Executive Immigration Program

bars-1177698_640In a brief to the Supreme Court, the State of Texas objected to the Obama administration’s planned immigration initiative to defer deportation to millions of undocumented immigrants, calling it an illegal program due to how it reportedly legitimizes “unlawful conduct.”

On April 18, the United States Supreme Court is expected to hear arguments involving the program, Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA), an executive action announced by President Obama in November 2014 serving as an extension of the existing immigration policy, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and widely considered the centerpiece of the president’s second term. However, a federal judge and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals enjoined the proposed action.

What’s at Stake

With the president’s executive action put on hold, more than 4 million undocumented immigrants who would otherwise have qualified for legal status in the United States are in legal limbo, and could very well be deported. The initiative allows undocumented immigrant parents of offspring in the United States with permanent resident status or citizenship, to apply for legal status in renewable 3-tear increments, which in turn allows them to obtain driver’s licenses and legal work.

Reasons for Blocking the Executive Action

A coalition of 25 GOP-controlled states, led by Texas, blocked the program from taking effect in May 2015, filing a December 2014 lawsuit in the lower courts. The group of Republican states argues that Obama’s executive action goes beyond his authority—reserved for Congress—and thus breaches the separation of powers. The states also point out the administration failed to the follow the standard process of notice-and-comment for new rules.

The coalition of Republican-controlled states say they only want to stop the potential trend of undocumented immigrants taking jobs from the country’s citizens and receiving government assistance, effectively draining the country’s coffers, or so they believe, as DAPA recipients could very well qualify for a Social Security Number, which might make them eligible for tax credits.

According to Texas Solicitor General Scott Keller, figures from the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation predict that DAPA recipients could be endowed with $1.7 billion in Earned Income Tax Credit payments across a 10-year period.

In February 2015, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen of Brownsille found enough cause to rule in favor of Texas’s call to sue the government after seeing the state would have to bear the cost of providing driver’s licenses to immigrants covered by DAPA. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans affirmed the decision that same year.

Arguments for DAPA

The Obama administration argues that DAPA is a common-sense solution to the basic problem in U.S. immigration policy: there is simply not enough time or money to deport everyone who is in the country illegally.

The government maintains DAPA’s goals are to provide relief to millions of undocumented immigrants, giving them a way out of illegal employment arrangements and helping law-abiding families stay together.

If you or anyone you know is affected by this legal conundrum on immigration, contact the legal team of Lyttle Law Firm right away. Schedule a consult by calling our offices at 512-215-5225 or by visiting our website.