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Obama’s Immigration Reform Program Shot Down by Fifth Circuit Court

Unfortunately for some 4.3 million immigrants in the United States, President Obama’s Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program will not be put into action – in fact it’s likely he will not see any progress on it before he leaves office next year.

The Fifth Circuit ruled against the program that was originally proposed back in November 2014, upholding the injunction against it which was imposed in February after US District Judge Andrew Hanen sided with a Texas-led coalition of 26 Republican-controlled states that sued the federal government two months previously.

The ruling cited that the suing states had standing because they would have to bear the cost of issuing driver’s licenses to immigrants who qualify under DAPA. While the government disagreed, saying that the costs would be offset by vehicle registration fees and work permits for the qualifying immigrants, Judge Jerry E. Smith for the majority argued that “Even if the government is correct, that does not negate Texas’s injury, because we consider only those offsetting benefits that are of the same type and arise from the same transaction as the costs.”

Smith also wrote that because Texas subsidizes its driver’s licenses and doesn’t make applicants pay fees, it would end up paying $130.89 for every license issued to DAPA beneficiaries. That could add up to millions, according to Smith, because an estimated 500,000 people would qualify in Texas alone.

In its lawsuit, Texas officials also claimed that DAPA violated the Administrative Procedure Act, under which all “substantive rule changes” are required to be published in the Federal Registrar to let citizens comment on them before they take effect. The government claimed DAPA was exempt from following the Act because it is a policy statement, not a substantive rule, but Smith wrote that to be considered a policy statement “DAPA must give employees of the Department of Homeland Security, the agency charged with immigration enforcement, the right to exercise discretion on whether to accept applications.”

DAPA is designed to keep “law-abiding” immigrant families together, while prioritizing the deportation of serious or dangerous criminals, meaning that those undocumented immigrants who have US-born children would be much more likely to be able to stay together in the country permanently. The ruling against it really only means one thing: more uncertainty and fear for qualifying immigrants and their families as they wait for the decision to be appealed – likely at the US Supreme Court.

If you would like legal consultation or more information regarding the ruling on DAPA, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Lyttle Law Firm for guidance. You can send an enquiry either through the website or by calling 512-215-5225.

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