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richard heinRichard Hein

The people's Lawyer

From St Louis, Missouri - EE.UU

Supreme Court Throws a Life Preserver to Obama’s Deferred Action on Parents of Americans (DAPA)

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On Tuesday, May 26, 2015, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals denied the Obama Administration’s request to lift the injunction Texas Federal Judge Hanen issued February 17, 2015 on the Deferred Action DAPA and DACA+ immigration programs that were to have gone into effect February 18, 2015. On Tuesday, January 19, 2016, the United States Supreme Court breathed life back in to the DAPA/DACA+ programs by granting the Obama Administration’s Writ of Certiorari.

DAPA/DACA+ would permit parents of American-born children to register to avoid deportation under certain circumstances, while expanding the popular original 2012 DACA program for foreign-born students brought to the United States in childhood similarly to avoid deportation, if qualified. The programs never went into effect due to Judge Hanen’s February Order, and remain on hold pending the Supreme Court’s ruling on the legality and constitutionality of Obama’s underlying Executive Order creating the programs.

What is a Writ of Certiorari? It is a Petition for Judicial Review of a lower Court’s decision. In the United States, the Supreme Court is not obligated to review any case, and has the power to pick and choose those on which it will rule. It announces its decisions by simple orders published on its website, which are then served on the parties. The Court’s decision to hear a case is called “granting certiorari”. The Order in the DAPA case is found here: http://www.supremecourt.gov/orders/courtorders/011916zor_l5gm.pdf.

I wrote in this column in June 2015 that the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals’ denial of Obama’s initial appeal had likely sounded the death knell for the DAPA and DACA+ deferred action immigration plans due to the time frames involved in federal appeals. This case, however, has flown through the Courts from the Trial Court to the Supreme Court in less than 11 months, which is virtually at the speed of light (compared to other cases).

Per Supreme Court Rules and its current argument calendar, Obama will file his Brief by March 5, 2016; the States their Opposition Brief within 30 days; and Obama may also file a Reply Brief. By my calculations, the Court is likely to hear oral arguments during the last 2 weeks of April, and will issue a decision before its term ends on June 30, 2016.

Immigration and DAPA/DACA+ will be major issues in the presidential campaign this year and at the Republican and Democratic Party Convention on July 18, 2016 and July 25, 2016, not only for their societal importance, but also due to the timing of what is expected to be a watershed. As a legal observer, the Supreme Court’s constitutional decision on what powers the President has in controlling how federal laws are executed is fascinating to watch as the executive, legislative and judicial branches assert themselves before our very eyes through the constitutional legal process. The Supreme Court’s decision, however, will have implications that likely will go well beyond the immigration arena, and for the approximate 5 million immigrants whose lives will be affected by its decision, it will be much more than merely academic. The Supreme Court will make its voice heard in dramatic fashion this summer, and millions of immigrants will be listening.