A Federal Judge in Texas temporarily blocked President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration, which drew opposition from 26 states across the nation.The United States District Judge Andrew Hanen ruled on February 16, 2015 to block the expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents program (DAPA) executive actions that Obama announced late last year to shield as many as 4.4 million undocumented immigrants from deportation.
The federal government quickly filed an appeal in the Fifth Circuit Court with an emergency motion asking for a stay on an injunction. The appeals court set a hearing for the matter on April 17, 2015 but on May 26, 2015 a split federal appeals court handed another legal setback by holding that the injunction should remain in effect while the merits are decided because the states have made a compelling case that they would suffer harm if the executive actions went into effect.
Presently, the Obama administration decided to focus on the substantive appeal of the injunction with the Fifth Circuit before taking it to the US Supreme Court. Oral arguments are set to begin in the week of July 6. A new Fifth Circuit panel of judges may hear that case.
It is unclear when DAPA applications would be accepted.
The initiatives under the Executive Order of November 20, 2014 that are currently on hold include:
- Expanding the population eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals
(DACA) program to people of any current age who entered the United States before the age of 16 and lived in the United States continuously since January 1, 2010, and extending the period of DACA and work authorization from two years to three years.
- Allowing parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents to request
deferred action and employment authorization for three years, in a new Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents* program, provided they have lived in the United States continuously since January 1, 2010, and pass required background checks.
In the meantime, individuals who may be eligible for DAPA or DACA should continue to gather documents necessary to show they meet the respectivecriteria, review and investigate past criminal and immigration records, and save money for the $465.00 application fee. The federal government anticipates that the court will ultimately uphold the legality of the executive actions and DHS will continue to prepare for a timely implementation of the programs as soon as that happens.
However, the initiatives of the Executive Order of November 20, 2014 that ARE NOT on hold, include but are not limited the following:
- Expanding the use of provisional waivers of unlawful presence to include the spouses and sons and daughters of lawful permanent residents and the sons and daughters of U.S. citizens to get a waiver if a visa is available. There may be instances when the qualifying relative is not the petitioner. The new initiative will also clarify the meaning of the “extreme hardship” standard that must be met to obtain a waiver.Currently, only spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens are allowed to apply for the provisional waiver if a visa is available.
- Modernizing, improving and clarifying immigrant and nonimmigrant visa programs to grow our economy and create jobs.*Individuals with approved I-140s but whose priority dates are not yet current would be able to submit their Adjustment of Status Applications sooner. This is expected to help about 410,000 individuals.* International students and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineer, and Mathematics) graduates will be eligible for expanded and extended usage of OPT (Optional Practical Training) Work Authorization.
- Promoting citizenship education and public awareness for lawful permanent residents and providing an option for naturalization applicants to use credit cards to pay the application fee.
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