On February 16, a federal judge in Brownsville, Texas, issued a preliminary injunction against a plan announced by President Obama last November to defer the removal of several million parents of US citizens and green card holders. The so-called Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) program was scheduled to take effect on February 18. The court also enjoined a proposed expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) first implemented in 2012.

In his 123-page decision, Judge Andrew Hanen found that at least the State of Texas (among 26 states that brought the lawsuit) had established standing to sue and that the defendant Department of Homeland Security had “clearly legislated a substantive rule without complying with the procedural requirements of the Administrative Procedures Act.” The judge made clear that while he was enjoining implementation of DAPA and the announced expansion of DACA, his order does not affect the previously implemented 2012 DACA program that has provided relief from removal and eligibility to apply for work authorization for some 700,000 teenagers and young adults. The Department of Homeland Security is expected to appeal the ruling to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

On the Horizon

Unaffected by this ruling are a number of administrative measures also announced by the President last November designed to reduce backlogs in the legal immigration process, provide work authorization for spouses of certain workers, promote STEM education and facilitate the admission of highly skilled temporary workers. Action on those measures by the relevant agencies is expected no later than May 2015.