Although often controversial, executive actions have been used since the 1950’s by every president to cure immigration problems in this country.
In September 2014, through a series of executive orders President Obama sought to address the immigration issues faced by millions of illegal immigrants. His Department of Homeland Security, or DHS, immigration directives, included a Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) and an expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
DAPA is expected to provide relief to approximately 3.8 million immigrants living in the country illegally, who have U.S. citizen children. Similar to DACA, DAPA would provide recipients security from deportation and grant them a work authorization. Moreover, the DACA expansion would give up to 300,000 more immigrants the opportunity to apply for relief. The expansion would eliminate the age cap requirement that an applicant be under the age of 31 on June 15, 2010; change the mandatory date of entry to January 1, 2010; allow for a 3 year grant instead of 2; and allow advance parole to travel.
Since September 2014, 26 states have filed lawsuits to block DAPA and DACA leading to a federal injunction placing the executive orders on hold while awaiting a court decision. On April 18, 2016, the US Supreme Court heard oral arguments from the opposing states including Texas. Texas argued that the president does not have authority to make or pass immigration laws as that’s Congress’s job. President Obama has consistently contended that he is exercising his discretion in enforcing existing immigration laws; because the executive branch does not have the resources to simply place all illegal immigrants in removal proceedings, he is using the limited resources to go after “high priority” illegal immigrants, such as felons and terrorists, while granting parents of US citizens and young teens brought to the US as children deferred action regarding their illegal status.
After the passing of late Justice Scalia, the Supreme Court has been divided between four conservative and four liberal justices which could cause a 4-4 tie. Unless one of the conservative justices sides with liberal, the injunction will remain and millions of immigrants will remain without relief.
Optimistically, at least one of the conservative justices will reason that Texas has no legal standing or basis to oppose President Obama’s executive actions, thus upholding DAPA and DACA and granting relief to millions of hopefuls. Having peace of mind from being deported and being able to work lawfully to provide for themselves and their families is a dream to many of these immigrants—a dream that has been on hold for too long.